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VOL. 18 




Group I. 

Foundations of the Nation 

Vol.i European Background of American 
History, by Edward Potts Chey- 
ney, A.M., Prof. Hist. Univ. of Pa. 

" 2 Basis of American History, by 
Livingston Farrand, M.D., Prof. 
Anthropology Columbia Univ. 

" 3 Spain in Ameri ca, by Edward Gay- 
lord Bourne, Ph.D., Prof. Hist. 
Yale Univ. 

" 4 England in America, by Lyon Gar- 
diner Tyler, LL.D., President 
William and Mary College. 

M 5 Colonial Self - Government, by 
Charles McLean Andrews, Ph.D., 
Prof. Hist. Johns Hopkins Univ. 

Group II. 

Transformation into a Nation 

Vol. 6 Provincial America, by Evarts 
Boutell Greene, Ph.D., Prof. Hist, 
and Dean of College, Univ. of 111. 
" 7 France in America, by Reuben 
Gold Thwaites, LL.D., Sec. Wis- 
consin State Hist. Soc. 

Vol. 8 Preliminaries of the Revolution, 
by George Elliott Howard, Ph.D., 
Prof. Hist. Univ. of Nebraska. 

" 9 The American Revolution, by 
Claude Halstead VanTyne,Ph.D., 
Prof. Hist. Univ. of Michigan. 

" 10 The Confederation and the Consti- 
tution, by Andrew Cunningham 
McLaughlin, A.M., Head Prof. 
Hist. Univ. of Chicago. 

Group III. 

Development of the Nation 

Vol. ii The Federalist System, by John 
Spencer Bassett, Ph.D., Prof. 
Am. Hist. Smith College. 

4< 12 The Jeffersonian System, by Ed- 
ward Channing, Ph.D., Prof. Hist. 
Harvard Univ. 

4 ' 13 Rise of American Nationality, by 
Kendric Charles Babcock, Ph.D., 
Pres. Univ. of Arizona. 

" 14 Rise of the New West, by Freder- 
ick Jackson Turner, Ph.D., Prof. 
Am. Hist. Univ. of Wisconsin. 

" 15 Jacksonian Democracy, by Will- 
iam MacDonald, LL.D., Prof. 
Hist. Brown Univ. 

Group IV. 

Trial of Nationality 

Vol. 16 Slavery and Abolition, by Albert 
Bushnell Hart, LL.D., Prof. Hist, 
Harvard Univ. 

Vol. 17 Westward Extension, by George 
Pierce Garrison, Ph.D., Prof. 
Hist. Univ. of Texas. 

" 18 Parties and Slavery, by Theodore 
Clarke Smith, Ph.D., Prof. Am. 
Hist. Williams College. 

" 19 Causes of the Civil War ,by Admiral 
French Ensor Chadwick, U.S.N. , 
recent Pres. of Naval War Col. 

" 20 The Appeal to Arms, by James 
Kendall Hosmer, LL.D., recent 
Librarian Minneapolis Pub. Lib. 

" 21 Outcome of the Civil War, by 
James Kendall Hosmer, LL.D., re- 
cent Lib. Minneapolis Pub. Lib. 

Group V. 
National Expansion 
Vol. 22 Reconstruction, Political and Eco- 
nomic, by William Archibald Dun- 
ning, Ph.D. , Prof. Hist, and Politi- 
cal Philosophy Columbia Univ. 
" 23 National Development, by Edwin 
Erie Sparks, Ph.D., Prof. Ameri- 
can Hist. Univ. of Chicago. 
" 24 National Problems, by Davis R. 
Dewey, Ph.D., Professor of Eco- 
nomics, Mass. Institute of Tech- 

" 25 America as a World Power, by 
John H. Latane, Ph.D., Prof. 
Hist. Washington and Lee Univ. 

" 26 National Ideals Historically 
Traced, by Albert Bushnell Hart, 
LL.D., Prof. Hist. Harvard Univ. 

" 27 Index to the Series, by David 
Maydole Matteson, A.M. 



The Massachusetts Historical Society 

Charles Francis Adams, LL.D., President 
Samuel A. Green, M.D., Vice-President 
James Ford Rhodes, LL.D., 2d Vice-President 
Edward Channing, Ph.D., Prof. History Harvard 

Worthington C. Ford, Chief of Division of MSS. 
Library of Congress 

The Wisconsin Historical Society 

Reuben G. Thwaites, LL.D., Secretary and Super- 

Frederick J. Turner, Ph.D., Prof, of American His- 
tory Wisconsin University- 
James D. Butler, LL.D., formerly Prof. Wisconsin 

William W. Wight, President 
Henry E. Legler, Curator 

The Virginia Historical Society 

William Gordon McCabe, Litt.D., President 

Lyon G. Tyler, LL.D., Pres. of William and Mary 

Judge David C. Richardson 
J. A. C. Chandler, Professor Richmond College 
Edward Wilson James 

The Texas Historical Society 

Judge John Henninger Reagan, President 
George P. Garrison, Ph.D., Prof, of History Uni- 
versity of Texas 
Judge C. W. Raines 
Judge Zachary T. Fullmore 


From a Contemporary Photograph 










Copyright, 1906, by Harper & Brothers. 




Editor's Introduction xi 

Author's Preface xv 

i. The Situation and the Problem (1850-1860) 3 

11. The Compromise a Finality (1850-1851) . . 14 

in. Politics without an Issue (1851-1853) . . 28 

iv. The Old Leaders and the New (1850-1860) 40 

v. The Era of Railroad Building (1850-1857) 59 

vi. Diplomacy and Tropical Expansion (1850- 

1855) 75 

vii. The Kansas-Nebraska Bill (1853-1854) . . 94 

viii. Party Chaos in the North (1854) .... 109 

ix. Popular Sovereignty in Kansas (1854-1856) 121 

x. The Failure of the Know-Nothing Party 

(1854-1856) 136 

xi. The Kansas Question before Congress 

(1856) 149 

xii. The Presidential Election (1856) .... 161 

xiii. The Panic of 1857 (1856-1858) 174 

xiv. The Supreme Court and the Slavery Ques- 

tion (1850-1860) 190 

xv. The Final Stage of the Kansas Struggle 

(1857-1858) 209 

xvi. The Triumph of Douglas (1858) .... 223 



xvii. The Irrepressible Conflict (1858-1859) . 236 

xviii. Foreign Affairs During the Kansas Con- 

test (1855-1860) 249 

xix. Social Ferment in the North (1850-1860) 263 

xx. Sectionalism in the South (1850-1860) . . 286 

xxi. Critical Essay on Authorities 305 

Index 325 


The United States (September, 1850) (in 

colors) facing 6 

Railroad Lines in Actual Operation 
October, i860 (Based on Time-tables), 
(in colors) " 62 

Test Vote on Kansas-Nebraska Bill in 

the House of Representatives (1854) " 106 

Civil War in Kansas (1854-1856) .... " 126 

Party Situations Shown by Elections of 

1855 " 132 

Presidential Election of 1856 (in colors) " 158 

Central America and Isthmian Routes 

(1846-1860) " 246 


l HE period from 1851 to 1859 is one of transi- 

1 tion, in which the political organizations which 
had been dominant during the previous thirty years 
were broken up, and gave place to new crystalliza- 
tions of voters ; and in which also the former political 
ideas and issues were absorbed in the paramount 
rivalry of slavery and anti-slavery. To bring out 
the contrast between the old parties and their aims 
and the new and imperious issues is the object of 
Professor Smith's volume. 

It was a period of remarkable characters as well 
as of stirring events; Clay and Webster are just 
descending on the horizon ; Seward, Chase, Douglas, 
Jefferson Davis, Sumner, Wade, come to the front 
as the protagonists in Congress and outside. The 
abolition movement, described in Slavery and Aboli- 
tion (vol. XVI. of the series), gives place to a broader 
and ever-widening anti-slavery movement, stirred 
by the fugitive - slave cases and by Uncle Tom's 
Cabin, but kept persistent by the attempts at the 
extension of slavery into the territories. The south- 
ern attitude towards slavery changes from the defen- 
sive to the aggressive assertion that slavery was 



meritorious. The conditions described by Garrison 
in Westward Extension (vol. XVII. of this series), 
are also changed : the annexation of Texas and fut- 
ure of New Mexico are no longer disputed ; and the 
controversy shifts to Kansas, and thus involves the 
long-standing Compromise of 1820. 

The book begins after the passage of the Com- 
promise of 1850, which is described in the previous 
volume, and chapters i. to iii. are given to the 
finality period and to the attempt to keep slavery 
out of politics. In chapter iv., Professor Smith 
traces the appearance of the new generation of 
public men, who are to remain in power until after 
the Civil War. Then come two chapters, v. and vi., 
the first on the internal development of the country 
by railroad building, the other on the renewed at- 
tempts at external expansion by the annexation of 
Cuba. Chapters vii. to xii. describe the Kansas- 
Nebraska episode, its effect in breaking up the old 
parties, the attempt to make a new issue through 
the Native American movement, and the final re- 
suit in establishing a national anti-slavery party, 
which comes near electing its candidate in 1856. 
Chapter xiii. is on the panic of 1857 and its economic 
results. Then follows, in chapters xiv. and xv., an 
account of the Dred Scott decision and of the re- 
newal of the Kansas struggle in the debate over 
the Lecompton bill, the two chapters illustrating 
the last attempts to adjust the slavery controversy 
by the federal judiciary or Congress Chapters xvi. 


and xvii. describe the breach between the northern 
and southern democrats. Then, after one chapter 
(xviii.) on Buchanan's diplomacy, including schemes 
of annexation of future slave-holding territory, the 
text closes with two chapters on the state of mind 
in the north and in the south, especially with refer- 
ence to the Union. 

The special importance of the volume in the 
American Nation series is that it shows the efforts to 
prevent the crisis which finally resulted in Civil 
War, by coming to an understanding as to the 
future of slavery; and that it reveals the impossi- 
bility of reconciling the rival habits of thought on 
that dividing question. 


IN the present volume I have endeavored to show 
how, in the years between 1850 and i860, the 
sectional divergence between free and slave states 
came to permeate law and politics, literature and 
social intercourse. This result was brought about 
in spite of the reluctance of the majority of the 
northern and southern people to admit any such 
antagonism, and over the persistent opposition of 
public leaders who exhausted every device to keep 
political feeling amicable and unsectional. If I have 
emphasized any one feature it is the course of party 
development, for it was in the field of party man- 
agement and in party struggles that the battles of 
sectionalism were fought at this time, largely deter- 
mining the course of executive action and of legisla- 
tion. The final party catastrophe which was the 
immediate cause of secession is left for a later 
volume in this series, but the year with which this 
volume closes, 1859, marks the virtual break-down 
of the effort at non-sectional politics. In the prep- 
aration of this work I have based my conclusion 
upon independent study of the documentary sources 
and other contemporary material, but in special 



fields I have not hesitated to rely upon the labors 
of other investigators, and throughout I have con- 
sulted the larger historical works which cover this 
period. I wish to record my special indebtedness 
to the History of the United States by James Ford 
Rhodes, upon whose scholarly thoroughness I have 
continually relied for assistance and guidance. 

Theodore Clarke Smith. 





THE year 1850 marks the end of the first stage 
of the slavery controversy in the United States. 
In 1843 a movement began for expansion towards 
the southwest which brought about the annexation 
of- Texas in 1845, the war with Mexico from 1846 
to 1848, and the purchase of the great domain of 
New Mexico and California. In the course of these 
events it was discovered that the majority of the 
people in the states where slavery did not exist 
were unwilling to see it introduced into any of 
the newly acquired territory. They demanded, ac- 
cordingly, from Congress, the passage of laws ex- 
pressly prohibiting involuntary servitude in the 
new lands, asserting this to be the traditional policy 
of the country, as illustrated in the Northwest 
Ordinance and the Missouri Compromise. This 
sentiment of the free states regarding slavery was 



to a large degree the result of an agitation for its 
abolition which had been active for a score of 
years without any positive results, until the north- 
ern feeling against slavery extension revealed that 
numbers of people who strongly disavowed any 
sympathy with abolitionists, properly so - called, 
had, nevertheless, been brought to dislike slavery 
as an indirect consequence of the abolitionists' in- 
cessant denunciation of the institution. 1 

On the other hand, it became evident that the 
people of the southern states regarded the existence 
of slavery in the new territories as vital to their 
interests. They maintained that, from the start, 
it had been the policy of the country to leave south- 
ern territory open to slavery, the proof being the 
absence of any restrictions upon the territories south 
of the Ohio at the time of the Northwest Ordinance, 
upon Florida or upon the Louisiana cession south 
of the Missouri Compromise line. In opposition to 
the proposal to exclude slavery from all the new 
regions, they demanded either the admission of 
slaves everywhere, or at least the division of New 
Mexico and California by a continuation of the 
Missouri Compromise line, prohibiting slavery to the 
north of it (as in the Louisiana territory) but per- 
mitting it to the southward. 2 They considered the 

1 Cf . Garrison, Westward Extension (Am. Nation, XVII.), 
chap, xviii. 

2 Cf . Turner, New West, chap. x. ; Hart, Slavery and Abolition, 
chap. xxi. (Am. Nation, XIV., XVI.) 



northern attitude an outgrowth of ignorance, big- 
otry, and unfairness, due to the abolitionist propa- 
ganda, and, regarding themselves as the aggrieved 
party — since the expansion movement was from the 
start a southern one — freely threatened to dissolve 
the Union in case their equality in the territories 
was not conceded. 

As soon as the consideration of territorial organ- 
ization began in Congress, it was found that the 
House, in which the superiority of the north in 
population gave an antislavery majority, was bal- 
anced by the Senate, in which the number of mem- 
bers from free and slave states was equal. The 
"Wilmot Proviso," as the clause excluding slavery 
from the territories was called from its original 
mover, repeatedly passed the House, from 1846 to 
1849, only to fail in the Senate; on the other hand, 
the extension of the Missouri Compromise line, 
which the Senate stood ready to adopt, was never 
favored by the House. Congress could not agree 
upon any form of organization for the territories, 
owing to this sectional issue, and popular excite- 
ment increased in intensity as year after year 
elapsed and no decision was reached. 1 

During this controversy, however, there existed a 
powerful influence which prevented the sectional 
antagonism from showing itself in undisguised form. 
Two political parties, the Democratic and Whig, 
stood in the years from 1840 to 1850 as parts of the 

1 Garrison, Westward Extension {Am. Nation, XVII.) , chap. xvi. 



accepted institutions of the country, singularly deep- 
rooted, thoroughly organized in every part of the 
Union, and not dependent upon casual issues for 
their existence. Led by keen politicians, their chief 
function was to carry elections and fill offices. 
Around their nominations, platforms, and campaign 
methods there had grown up a body of tradition 
hardening into immovable custom; and the sense 
of party loyalty among the voters had developed 
into an unquestioning faith and acceptance of the 
duty of supporting the "regular ticket" and the 
"usages of the party." 

Principles which were supposed to divide Demo- 
crat from Whig were not always easy to discover, 
since the real basis of the organizations was social 
and partisan and not related to legislation; but, in 
general, the Democratic party professed an adhe- 
rence to states' rights and a tendency to restrict the 
powers of the central government ; while the Whigs 
inherited to some degree the more liberal govern- 
mental views of the Federalists, whose semi-aristo- 
cratic attitude they also shared. On all issues of 
the day it was practicable and often necessary for 
the parties to avoid taking definite action, since it 
was seldom that their membership was sufficiently 
united upon any federal policy to make it safe 
to enforce party discipline in a merely legislative 
question. The main desideratum was always party 
unity in elections ; and while the widest divergence 
in voting in Congress was compatible with party 



membership, no deviation at election time was 
tolerated, except in rare cases. 

Towards the new slavery issue, the attitude of 
the two parties was strictly limited by the opinions 
of the leaders as to how far it was safe for campaign 
purposes to take ground for or against any measure. 
In 1844 the Democratic party declared for the an- 
nexation of Texas, but the Whig platform carefully 
avoided the subject, for fear of cooling the zeal of 
proslavery southerners or of antislavery northern 
members. As soon as the sectional divergence be- 
came apparent in Congress, the local party organiza- 
tions fell in with the sentiment of their sections, 
demanding exclusion or admission of slavery as the 
case required; but this apparent sectional division 
disappeared in the presidential campaign of 1848, 
when each party, by the simple expedient of refus- 
ing to take any attitude whatever on the problem 
of slavery in the new territories, was able to face 
both ways and retain its constituency. 1 Through- 
out the period, however, there was visible a tendency 
on the part of the party leaders, both in the federal 
executive and in Congress, to favor conciliating the 
south as far as was feasible without danger of alien- 
ating the north, since the possibility of southern 
disunion was always alarming. This attitude, and 
the absence of any definite party principles on the 
issue of the extension of slavery, led the more radical 

1 Cf. Garrison, Westward Extension (Am. Nation, XVII.), 
chap. xvii. 




antislavery politicians to attempt the formation of 
a new northern party at Buffalo, in 1848, but the 
Free Soil organization succeeded only in drawing 
enough votes in the state of New York from Cass, 
the Democratic candidate, to secure the election of 
his rival, General Taylor. The election decided 
nothing and the situation remained critical. 

In the session of Congress beginning December, 
1849, and lasting to October, 1850, the moderate 
leaders of both parties— Clay, Webster, Cass, Doug- 
las, and others — united to advocate, and, after a bit- 
ter struggle, to carry through, a series of acts intend- 
ed to establish a permanent adjustment between the 
sections. This arrangement included three minor 
propositions as make-weights: the abolition of the 
slave-trade in the District of Columbia, to satisfy 
antislavery sentiment; a more stringent fugitive- 
slave law, to satisfy the demands of slave-owners; 
and the payment of a sum of ten millions in return 
for the relinquishment by Texas of territorial claims 
over part of New Mexico. The most important acts 
were three: one admitted California, where the dis- 
covery of gold had already drawn a considerable 
population, as a free state covering the entire Pacific 
coast - line between Oregon and Mexico ; the other 
two organized Utah and New Mexico as territories 
without prohibiting slavery, under the so-called 
"principle of Congressional non-interference." The 
final determination as to slavery was left to the 
inhabitants at the time when they should draught a 



constitution and apply for admission as a state. 
During the long congressional struggle over this 
compromise, the south resounded with threats of 
secession, and a convention of delegates of the slave 
states met at Nashville to take preliminary steps for 
uniting the section in case its rights were not recog- 
nized. The state of Texas threatened to assert its 
claims in the region of New Mexico by force, and 
President Taylor was preparing to maintain the au- 
thority of the United States, at the risk of civil war, 
when a sudden illness caused his death and the acces- 
sion of Fillmore, a less pugnacious man, to the presi- 
dency. All felt that the country had been saved 
from a dangerous crisis by the leadership of Clay 
and his colleagues. 1 

With the passage of these compromise laws, every 
part of the public territories of the United States 
received some sort of regulation as regarded slavery. 
Except the Indian reservation, all of the old Louis- 
iana purchase which still remained in the territorial 
state was closed to slavery by the Missouri Com- 
promise, which in 1845 had been extended also 
over a small part of Texas. The Oregon territory 
was closed by an organizing act of 1848. All that 
was left open to slave-holders was the large but arid 
domain of Utah and New Mexico, clearly unsuited 
to any industry hitherto carried on in the United 
States by slave labor. It seemed as though there 
was no further opportunity for sectional contro- 

1 Garrison, Westward Extension (Am. Nation, XVII.) , chap. xix. 


versy over the slavery issue, provided that the exist- 
ing conditions remained unaltered. 

From 1850 to i860 the problem for the political 
leaders of the United States was that of guiding 
public affairs in such a way that neither section of 
the country should again feel that its interests were 
endangered. It was obvious that the chief danger to 
this programme was to be feared from the southern 
extremists ; for, whatever might be the legal or po- 
litical rights of the south, the slave-holding com- 
munities, as Calhoun had been pointing out for a 
generation, were on the defensive and were in the 
minority. There was no northern institution which 
was really endangered by the south, no northern in- 
terest menaced by southern reprobation. Slavery, 
on the contrary, was the object of attack by north- 
ern public opinion ; and if the north should, as a unit, 
decide to exclude slavery from the federal domain 
or to use the powers of the federal government to 
discourage the institution, its superiority of num- 
bers would enable it to carry out the purpose. With 
this situation clearly before them, southern extre- 
mists formed a far larger proportion of the local pop- 
ulation than did abolitionists in the north, and were 
held in far higher respect at home and greater awe 
in the councils at Washington. They proclaimed 
a visible danger. Accordingly, all the conservative 
leaders of both sections regarded the south as the 
political element of the country to be placated, and 
exercised their influence in executive, legislative, and 



judicial office upon that assumption. With the 
older generation, as sectional dangers thickened, this 
feeling grew to be the sole effective political aim, 
until the last years of such a man as Webster were 
devoted to the one object of inducing his section to 
cease criticising the south, for fear of endangering 
the safety of the federal Union ; and the entire 
energy of such a president as Pierce or Buchan- 
an was expended in trying to satisfy southern 

The powerful assistance of the existing parties in 
carrying out this plan was clearly recognized, and 
from 1850 to i860 the possibility of keeping the 
south contented was seen to rest largely upon the 
preservation of these organizations in their nation- 
al, non-sectional condition. So long as Whig and 
Democratic parties drew support from all parts of 
the country it was not possible for a sectional presi- 
dent or a sectional Congress to be elected. But it 
was seen that the free states, if a sectional northern 
party were formed, could through their superior 
population elect an antislavery president and Con- 
gress, a result which would inevitably precipitate 
disunion; so that the one great political danger 
dreaded by conservatives and by the older party 
leaders was the disturbance of the existing party 
loyalty and the rise of either a northern or a south- 
ern sectional party. The practical problem in 1850 
was, then, to preserve the old Whig and Democratic 
traditions, and to resume, if possible, the compara- 


tively innocuous party contests of the years before 

The only source of possible friction lay in the 
chance that the southern people might again at- 
tempt tropical annexations, an event which, in 1850, 
seemed by no means unlikely. Should the acquisi- 
tion of Cuba, the goal of southern desires, be seri- 
ously sought, the question of the addition of slave 
territory would lift its head, and might again arouse 
the north to sectional action; hence any attempt 
on the part of the United States to enter this field 
must be made with caution. Other points where 
the federal government must continue to touch 
slavery might prove annoying, but could hardly be 
dangerous. The new fugitive-slave law involved no 
striking novelty, and the diplomacy of slavery, re- 
lating to the slave-trade and shipwrecked or mu- 
tinous negroes, was not sufficiently important to 
arouse sectional antagonism. 

Now that the slavery question had received some 
sort of adjustment, it remained to be seen whether 
the country would acquiesce and let the old parties 
resume their customary electoral contests, and con- 
cern themselves with those problems of internal gov- 
ernment with which their earlier days had been 
taken up — such as the currency, the tariff, the pub- 
lic lands. The administration in power was that of 
Millard Fillmore, a conservative Whig, thoroughly 
committed to the compromise measures which, as 
president, he had signed. His cabinet, newly formed 


in the summer of 1850, was equally determined to 
adhere to sectional harmony, from Webster, the 
secretary of state, and Corwin, secretary of the 
treasury, to Crittenden, of Kentucky, the attorney- 
general. The era of compromise opened with its 
friends in power in all parts of the federal govern- 



l HE three years following the passage of Henry 

1 Clay's compromise measures were marked by 
the apparent triumph, in public opinion and in fed- 
eral and state politics, of the belief that the slavery 
issue between north and south could be permanently 
set aside. This triumph was foreshadowed, during 
the spring and summer of 1850, by a rising demand 
for sectional peace, which aided Clay and his follow- 
ers to carry out their programme. By the time that 
Congress adjourned, in October, 1850, the victory 
seemed almost won. All that remained was to se- 
cure definite ratification by press, pulpit, party reso- 
lutions, and the election of " compromise' ' candi- 
dates. To secure this the antislavery sentiment of 
the north, embodied in the Free Soil movement, and 
the still more threatening secessionist agitation in 
the south, must be stamped out, and the old-time 
political system re-established. 

In the northern states the problem of the defenders 
of the new compromise was to induce men of anti- 
slavery tendencies to forego all further agitation 

1 8 so] 



concerning slavery, on the ground that the decision 
just reached was equitable; and that, unless the 
north accepted it as final, the southern states might 
be driven to secede. To prove that the failure to 
exclude slavery from Utah and New Mexico was 
unimportant was comparatively easy ; but to render 
the fugitive-slave law acceptable seemed at first a 
difficult task. For the speedy capture of fugitives 
special federal commissioners were provided, and 
the United States marshals and their deputies were 
enjoined to aid; the procedure was simply proving 
the identity of the asserted slave to the satisfaction 
of the commissioner by ex parte evidence, excluding 
any testimony of the negro whose freedom was at 
stake; the decision of the commissioner was final; 
and all good citizens were liable to be called upon 
to aid in enforcing the law under heavy penalties 
for refusal or for aiding the fugitive. The commis- 
sioner's fee was to be ten dollars when he returned 
a fugitive to slavery, five when he discharged him. 
No part of the law indicated any precautions against 
the enslavement of actually free negroes ; it assumed 
that members of that race were normally slaves and 
that their liberty was a concern of the laws of the 
slave states alone, subject only to the check of the 
commissioner *s judgment . 1 

Upon this act was poured out the anger of all 
unreconciled antislavery people in the autumn of 
1850. Public meetings by the hundred were held in 

1 U. S. Statutes at Large, IX., 462. 



all parts of the free states to denounce it as uncon- 
stitutional, immoral, unchristian, and abhorrent to 
every instinct of justice and religion, and to demand 
its repeal. Many announced their purpose to dis- 
obey the act, often in exasperating language. " We 
hereby declare our purpose," said an Indiana meet- 
ing, "to make it powerless in the country by our 
absolute refusal to obey its inhuman and diabolical 
provisions." 1 "The enactment of it is utterly null 
and void," declared a Syracuse mass-meeting, "and 
should so ... be treated by the people." 2 

Against this agitation such defenders of the com- 
promise as Cass, Dickinson, and Douglas, of the Dem- 
ocrats, and Choate and Webster among the Whigs, 
began a powerful counter-movement for peace and 
submission to law. On their side rallied respectable 
society, the clergy, business men, and all who were 
tired of wrangles ; and they all proclaimed earnestly 
and repeatedly that the time had come for an abso- 
lute cessation of antislavery controversy. "Union 
meetings " in New York, Boston, and other cities ap- 
proved the compromise measures and demanded the 
execution of the fugitive-slave law in order to save 
the country. The great meeting in New York on 
October 30 voted "the thanks of this communi- 
ty and of the whole nation ... to those eminent 
statesmen and patriots, Clay, Cass, Webster, Fill- 
more, Dickinson, Foote, Houston and others," re- 

1 Indiana True Democrat, November 8, 1850. 

3 National Anti-Slavery Standard, October 17, 1850. 

i8 5 o] 



solved to sustain the fugitive-slave act by all lawful 
means, declared all further slavery agitation to be 
dangerous to the Union, and pledged those present 
not to vote for any one who favored it. 1 

No one was more active nor more influential than 
Webster, who devoted all the powers of his eloquence 
in letters and speeches to reiterating the substance 
of his Seventh-of-March speech, denouncing the aboli- 
tionists, censuring all who did not admit the binding 
force of the fugitive-slave law, and declaring, again 
and again, " No man is at liberty to set up, or affect 
to set up his own conscience above the law." 2 In 
Chicago the city council, supported by popular opin- 
ion, passed a resolution requesting all citizens to 
abstain from executing the obnoxious act ; but Doug- 
las achieved the feat of bringing a hostile public 
meeting by sheer force of oratory to adopt resolu- 
tions for submission to the law. 3 

The effect of this general campaign for finality was 
shown in the elections of 1850 ; the crisis seemed over, 
and voters were returning to the party situation 
which existed before 1848. The Whig party, whose 
platforms were usually rather more antislavery than 
those of the Democrats, lost ground in congressional 
and state elections, the Barnburners of 1848 now re- 
turned to their old ranks, and the Free Soil party 
crumbled into insignificance. In two states, how- 

1 N. Y. Tribune, October 31, 1850. 

2 Webster, Works (ed. of 1851), 578. 

3 Sheahan, Douglas, 159. 



ever, the Free-Soilers were able to score one last 
triumph owing to the accident that their representa- 
tives in the legislatures held the balance between 
the two old parties and thus were able to dictate the 
election of antislavery senators. In Ohio they as- 
sisted in sending to the Senate Benjamin F. Wade, 
a Whig of strong antislavery principles and pugna- 
cious northern sectionalism. In Massachusetts, by 
a formal coalition, the two minority groups, Free- 
Soilers and Democrats, managed to control the legis- 
lature and share the offices by electing George S. 
Boutwell, a Democrat, as governor, and Charles 
Sumner, a Free-Soiler, as senator. This coalition, 
which was denounced by the dispossessed "Cotton 
Whigs " as utterly immoral and unprincipled, seemed 
by its success to obscure the real decline of anti- 
slavery feeling; but outside of Massachusetts the 
failure of the Free Soil party was manifest. 1 

Meanwhile a very different contest was going on 
at the south. There the problem for such leaders 
as Clay, Crittenden, Stephens, Cobb, and Foote, who 
accepted the compromise, was far more difficult than 
that of their northern colleagues. It was necessary 
to persuade the southern people that their section 
had not lost by the admission of California, and that 
the north was going to carry out the fugitive-slave 
law, so that no cause existed any longer for secession. 
In the northernmost slave states the influence of 

1 Wilson, Slave Power, II., chap, xxvii. ; Pierce, Sumner, III., 
221-244; Curtis, Curtis, I., 138-185. 



Clay was strong, but in the " cotton states " an active 
minority of leaders repudiated the compromise and 
refused to acquiesce without an effort to bring about 
secession. The result was a campaign carried on 
with all the personal absorption, high feeling, and 
vigorous oratory which characterized the contests 
of southern leaders with one another. Among the 
secessionists Governor Quitman, of Mississippi, was 
prominent, urging that the time for action had come. 
" There is nothing," he said in his message to the 
legislature in November, "to encourage the hope 
that there will be any respite from aggression . N ever 
has hostility to slavery been more distinctly marked 
or more openly asserted. . . . The North has just 
triumphed in every claim she has asserted. I do not 
hesitate to express my decided opinion that the only 
effectual remedy to evils which must continue to 
grow from year to year is the prompt and peacea- 
ble secession of the aggrieved states." 1 Governor 
Means, of South Carolina, and Governor Bell, of Tex- 
as, were equally ready to bring about a crisis over the 
Texas boundary question ; and all that held Means 
back from prompt action was his conviction that 
some other state than South Carolina ought to take 
the lead. 2 In Alabama, William L. Yancey, the elo- 
quent and radical "fire-eater," organized Southern 
Rights associations whose purpose was frankly to 

1 Claiborne, Quitman, II., 47, 50. 

2 Means to Quitman, May 12, 1851, Claiborne. Quitman, II., 



agitate for disunion, and these were imitated in other 
states until a new secessionist organization had come 
into existence. The Alabama Southern Rights con- 
vention, on February 1, 1851, denounced a "tame 
submission to hostile and unconstitutional legisla- 
tion," resolved to form a new southern party, called 
for the election of delegates to a southern congress, 
and announced that, if any other state or states 
seceded, Alabama should follow. 1 

On the other side, however, stood the bulk of the 
conservative Whigs and Democrats; and, in addition, 
many leaders who had been aggressive for slavery 
extension during the struggle just ended, but were 
now willing to accept the compromise as a tempo- 
rary settlement. Such men as Foote, of Mississippi, 
Howell Cobb, Alexander Stephens, and the fiery 
Toombs, of Georgia, were no less champions of south- 
ern rights than Quitman and Yancey, and they now 
threw their personal weight into the scales against 
secession. The first victory of the southern Union- 
ists was won in the adjourned session of the Nash- 
ville Convention of June, 1850, which came together 
again in November, in spite of the fact that Judge 
Sharkey, the Unionist president, refused to issue the 
call. So reduced was the membership that the 
convention did not feel strong enough to do more 
than denounce the compromise measures, reassert 
the right of secession, and recommend the south to 
cut off commercial relations with the north until 
1 Hodgson, Cradle of Confederacy, 290; Du Bose, Yancey, 252. 



its rights were recognized. 1 Then the governors of 
Arkansas, Virginia, Alabama, and Florida, while con- 
demning the compromise, admitted that there was no 
necessity for secession until some further action on 
the part of the north should aggravate the situation ; 2 
and the Texas legislature, instead of insisting on its 
boundary claim, accepted the federal offer of ten 
millions as a money compensation, thus removing a 
possible source of conflict. 

Finally came the election of a state convention in 
Georgia to decide the question of union or secession. 
The strong trio of Cobb, Stephens, and Toombs can- 
vassed the state, and after a campaign of considerable 
excitement the Unionists won a complete victory 
in November. When the convention met the next 
month, it drew up what became widely known as the 
"Georgia platform," embodying the ultimatum of 
the southern proslavery Unionists. 3 It declared in 
substance that the state, while not entirely approv- 
ing of the compromise, would regard it as a perma- 
nent adjustment, but in future "would resist even 
to the disruption of the union' ' any act prohibiting 
slavery in the territories, or a refusal to admit a 
slave state, or any modification of the fugitive-slave 
law. 4 By the opening of the year it looked as though 

1 Hodgson, Cradle of Confederacy, 279; N. Y. Tribune, Novem- 
ber 27, 1850; Cluskey, Political Text Book, 597. 

2 Harper's Magazine, January, 1851, p. 267. 

3 Stovall, Toombs, S3. 

4 Phillips, Georgia and State Rights, 165; Hodgson, Cradle of 
Confederacy, 279-314. 



the advocates of peace and union were likely to win 
in their contest. The next twelve months were to 
settle the matter definitely. 

When Congress met in December, 1850, it was 
evident that a calm had come over that once turbu- 
lent and angry body. All the forces of compromise 
united to declare the finality of the slavery adjust- 
ment, Fillmore intimating in his annual message 
that he would use his veto to protect it, and Clay 
uniting with forty other members in a manifesto 
pledging themselves to support no man for office 
who was not opposed to all further agitation. 1 At- 
tempts by Hale and Giddings, two inveterate anti- 
slavery champions, to revive discussion of slavery 
questions provoked no response ; and when southern 
leaders such as Mason, of Virginia, pointed to the 
agitation against the fugitive-slave law as a proof 
that the compromise was not working well, they 
were met by eager assertions on the part of Clay and 
others that agitation was dying out. " I believe the 
law will be executed," asserted Cass, "wherever the 
flag of the Union waves. ... A wonderful change 
in public sentiment has taken place. It is going on 
and will go onward until the great object is accom- 
plished. We see it at the North, we see it at the 
West, and all around us, and we cannot mistake 
it." 2 

It was a source of grief to Clay and his sympa- 
thizers that a succession of annoying episodes proved 

1 Cong. Globe, 31 Cong., 2 Sess., 304. 2 Ibid., 296. 



that the fugitive law was bitterly unpopular at the 
north. Its passage, accompanied by rumors that 
the government intended to apply it vigorously, 
caused a panic among the colored population of 
northern cities. Fugitives who had been living in 
imagined security fled to Canada, and their course 
seemed justified by the first cases under the law, 
which appeared to show a greater anxiety to return 
alleged slaves than to secure certainty as to their 
identity. 1 Finally, in February, 1851, a fugitive 
named Shadrach was violently rescued in Boston 
by a crowd of negroes after examination before a 
commissioner. 2 This act, not significant in itself, 
distressed the advocates of sectional harmony as 
seeming to contradict their confident assertions of 
the purpose of the north to execute the act; and 
Fillmore at once issued a proclamation announcing 
his purpose to employ the whole force of the gov- 
ernment to support the law. In a special message 
he also asked Congress for additional powers, 3 with 
the result of a lively controversy between extreme 
southerners who were anxious to prove the law a 
failure and conservatives like Clay, who insisted that 
the behavior of Massachusetts was exceptional ; but 
no action was taken, and the session ended without 
further sectional recrimination. 

1 Wilson, Slave Power, II., chap. xxvi. 

2 Garrison, Garrison, III., 325; Weiss, Parker, II., 103-106; 
Fro thin gham, Parker, 412. 

3 Richardson, Messages and Papers, V., 101, 109. 

.yoL. xviii. — 3 

|; \ 




The campaign for finality was now fought to a suc- 
cessful conclusion. In the north, Webster and others 
continued with unabated activity preaching the sanc- 
tity of the Union, the finality of the compromise, 
the futility and folly of agitation, and the supremacy 
of the law. 1 It was true that a number of other 
cases of forcible resistance to the fugitive-slave law 
occurred in 185 1, notably the rescue of " Jerry" in 
Syracuse by a crowd of abolitionists and others, 3 
and the killing of a master, Gorsuch, by a band of 
negroes, among whom was the fugitive whom he was 
attempting to recapture. In their anxiety to pun- 
ish this crime with adequate severity, the federal 
authorities made an effort to convict a Quaker, 
Castner Hanway, of treason, on the ground that, as 
a by-stander, he had refused to assist Gorsuch ; but 
this attempt to bring resistance to the fugitive-slave 
act under the head of " levying war against the 
United States " proved futile. 3 As the year wore on, 
it became evident that the compromise had done its 

In spite of the efforts of radicals, the excitement 
over the fugitive-slave act diminished, and the peo- 
ple of the free states settled down to an attitude 
of sincere but reluctant acquiescence. " It is a dis- 

1 Curtis, Webster, II., 499-523; Webster, Works (ed. of 1851), 
VI., 582 et seq. 

2 Frothingham, Smith, 117; May, Antislavery Conflict, 373. 

3 Wilson, Slave Power, II., 328; Still, Underground Railroad, 
349; History of Trial of Castner Hanway, 1852; McDougall, 
Fugitive Slaves, § 60. 



graceful and dirty business," said the Ohio State 
Journal, "but it is sanctioned by the constitution," 
and "whatever things it pledges them [the northern 
people] to do, these things they intend to do, whether 
agreeable or disagreeable." 1 A sign of this acquies- 
cence was the successful return from Boston of a 
fugitive named Sims, in April, 1851, in spite of the 
opposition of sympathetic abolitionists. 2 

In the elections of 1851, both Whig and Demo- 
cratic platforms dropped the last shreds of anti- 
slavery language. The decline in the Whig vote 
continued, and the Free Soil party now numbered 
little more than the old Liberty party. So hopeless 
appeared its outlook that one of its leaders in the 
Senate, Chase, of Ohio, formally joined the Demo- 
crats in the state election. 3 Another result of the 
compromise struggle was seen this year in Missouri. 
Senator Benton, having refused to obey proslavery 
instructions of the state legislature, and having voted 
for the admission of California, his defiant attitude 
led to a split in the Democratic party in the sena- 
torial election. Though Benton retained a majority 
of Democrats, his opponents joined the Whigs to 
elect H. S. Geyer, an adherent of the compromise. 
Benton refused to accept this defeat as final, and 
fought hard for six years, sitting for one term in the 

[ 1 Ohio State Journal, April 21, 1851. 

2 Adams, Dana, I., 185; Frothingham, Parker, 415; Details 
of the rescues of fugitives, in Hart, Am. Hist told by Contempo- 
raries, IV., §§ 29-33. 

3 Smith, Liberty and Free Soil Parties, 239-241. 



House of Representatives, and dividing his party in 
election after election, without success. 1 After his 
death, in 1858, the Bentonian Democrats in many 
cases became Republicans. 

The struggle between the Unionists and Secession- 
ists was now fought to a conclusion in the cotton 
states, where the efforts of the Southern Rights 
associations caused a temporary reconstruction of 
party lines. Most of the Whigs united with the con- 
servative Democrats in a Union party, while the 
Southern Rights party, comprising the rest of the 
Democrats, and led by the unreconciled Quitman and 
Yancey, took the field in a last effort at secession. 
The result was a sweeping and conclusive victory for 
the Unionists in every state where the issue was 
joined, a victory due in large part to the personal 
power of the Unionist leaders in a region where per- 
sonality counted much. In Georgia, Cobb, the 
Union candidate for governor, won easily over the 
State Rights nominee ; 2 in Alabama both candidates 
approved the compromise ; in Mississippi the Union- 
ists won a complete victory in the election of dele- 
gates for a state convention. This seemed such a 
personal condemnation that Quitman, the Southern 
Rights candidate for governor, withdrew and Jeffer- 
son Davis took his place, finishing out the campaign 
with vigor against Foote, who barely succeeded in 

1 Meigs, Benton, 414; Durrie and Davis, Missouri, chap, xv.- 
xvii.; Switzler, in Barns, Missouri, chap, xxiii. 

2 Phillips, Georgia and State Rights, 166. 



defeating him. 1 Finally, in South Carolina, where 
the issue was made between those demanding imme- 
diate secession and those advocating co-operation 
with other states, the co-operationists won by a good 
majority in October. 2 By the autumn of 1851, ac- 
cordingly, the last elements of irreconcilable opposi- 
tion to the finality of the compromise were beaten 
down in north and south. The only relics of the ex- 
treme wings were a few Free Soil senators and repre- 
sentatives — Hale, Chase, Sumner, Giddings — and a 
few Southern Rights exponents. The people of the 
country clearly accepted the compromise as a set- 
tlement, for the time being at all events, and the sla- 
very question seemed laid to rest as a national issue. 

The reasons for this state of rest are the same as 
those for the passage of the compromise: the mass 
of the northern people were not enough concerned 
about slavery to risk driving the south into dis- 
union, and were willing to endure even the fugi- 
tive-slave law for the sake of regaining political and 
commercial peace. The southern people, deeply as 
they felt the loss to their section of a share of Cali- 
fornia, and little as they trusted the good-will of 
the north, were willing to let matters rest, provided 
nothing further should arise to disturb the equilib- 
rium. So peace reigned once more at Washington, 
and among the states. 

1 Davis, Confederate Government, I., 18-22; R. Davis, Recollec- 
tions, 315-323 ; Garner, in Miss. Hist. Soc, Publications, IV., 91. 

2 Hodgson, Cradle of Confederacy, 285-299. 



THE triumph of the compromise of 1850 as a 
final settlement once assured, the political life 
of the country, freed from the annoyance of wrangles 
over slavery, turned back into the old channels ; and 
the years immediately following 185 1 were a second 
"era of good feeling." People could now devote 
themselves to their own affairs, glad to be rid forever 
of the wearisome phrases " extension of slavery," 
" Wilmot proviso," " states rights" and " secession." 
It was perfectly true, as Free-Soilers at the north and 
" fire-eaters " at the south pointed out, that the dif- 
ferences between the free and slave states remained 
unaltered, and that there was no guarantee against 
interruption by the first question which might come 
up requiring federal action towards slavery. But 
such prophets of evil were unpopular and were re- 
garded as disturbers of a hard -won peace. The 
whole country, in short, tried by an effort of will to 
sink the sectional differences into oblivion. 

The two great parties were again organized for 
contest just as before 1848, and called for public sup- 



port; but it now appeared that, with the slavery 
question out of the way, there remained no other 
important national issue. The old questions of na- 
tional bank and tariff were obsolete, for a new indus- 
trial life had come into being and new problems were 
confronting capitalists and farmers. Hence local 
affairs absorbed the interest of voters and legislat- 
ures. State banking laws were forced through, 
vetoed, or submitted to popular referendum; rail- 
ways were aided or regulated; new public schools 
and universities were established ; and the newspa- 
pers, once filled with angry editorials and sectional 
arguments upon slavery, now gave space to the 
paving and lighting of streets, the delimitation of 
legislative districts, taxation for charitable institu- 
tions, and like homely issues. Only steadfast abo- 
litionist and intense proslavery papers continued to 
refer to the subject which the country was trying 
hard to ignore. 

In default of a national issue, public interest 
turned to various reforming movements. 1 The tem- 
perance agitation had been going on for twenty 
years, in the form of a moral and religious propa- 
ganda against drunkenness, headed by vehement 
orators, of whom the eloquent and emotional John 
B. Gough was the foremost example. By 1850 pub- 
lic sentiment against the liquor traffic had grown so 
strong that attempts were made to prohibit the sale 

1 For earlier stages, see Hart, Slavery and Abolition (Am. Na- 
tion, XVI.), chap. i. 


altogether. The state of Maine led the way in acts 
of 1846 and 1848, culminating in the drastic statute 
of 1 85 1, known henceforth as "the Maine law." It 
absolutely prohibited the manufacture or sale of 
alcoholic liquors except under state authorization 
for medicinal use, and backed up its mandates by 
fines, imprisonment, and powers of search. The agi- 
tation for the Maine law quickly spread to other 
states, and soon resulted in bitter political struggles 
in legislatures and elections. Governors were obliged 
to veto or sign bills, parties were called upon to recog- 
nize the issue in their platforms, until it seemed as 
though, in the absence of any other pressing question, 
the whole country was destined to be absorbed in the 
prohibition contest. In many states the Free Dem- 
ocratic party adopted this policy and made notable 
gains in its vote, and in others impatient temperance 
reformers began to set up independent candidates. 1 
Observers detected in this sudden fervor the .signs 
of a new excitability in American political life, which, 
deprived of its former food by the cessation of the 
slavery struggle, sought for some substitute. Such 
an outlet was furnished by the visit of Kossuth and 
other Hungarian refugees to the United States in 
1852. The people of the country were keenly in- 
terested in the upheavals of 1848 in Europe, sym- 
pathized strongly with the revolutionists, and were 
especially stirred by the brave struggle of Hun- 

1 Whig Almanac and Tribune Almanac, 1 851-18 56; Cyclop, 
of Temperance and Prohibition, 275-360. 



gary against Austria and Russia. When Hungary 
was crushed in 1849 and Kossuth took refuge in 
Turkey, an agitation began which finally led Con- 
gress to offer an asylum to the exiles. Accordingly, 
in December, Kossuth arrived at New York as a 
national guest and began a tour of the country in 
search of pecuniary and other aid. Under any cir- 
cumstances the tragic fate of Hungary and the at- 
tractive personality and wonderful eloquence of Kos- 
suth would have commanded interest; but coming 
at this time of absolute political calm, his visit 
produced a volcanic eruption of excitement which 
equalled the earlier crazes over " Citizen Genet " and 
Lafayette. He was met at New York by roaring 
crowds, salutes of cannon, banquets, and welcoming 
deputations from every conceivable body of men 
from Socialists to Presbyterian ministers. At Phila- 
delphia, Baltimore, and other cities the same excite- 
ment was manifested. Local politicians, conscious 
of the pressing necessity of keeping with the popular 
current, made speeches of unmeasured eulogy and 
sympathy. 1 Had the language of many fervent con- 
gressmen been taken literally, Kossuth would have 
been justified in expecting the United States to enter 
upon a course of active intervention in behalf of 
Hungary and other oppressed nations of Europe. 2 

1 Von Hoist, United States, IV., 64-96; Rhodes, United States, 
I., 231-243. 

2 Cong. Globe, 32 Cong., 1 Sess., December 1, 8-12, 16, 27, 
January 2, 5, 8, 20 et seq. 

3 2 


Webster, however, as secretary of state, carefully 
refrained from committing the United States to any 
formal action, 1 and although there was a public re- 
ception to the Hungarian patriot by each House of 
Congress, Kossuth, whose head was not turned by 
his situation, saw clearly that he could hope for noth- 
ing more than sympathy. Some of the more conser- 
vative members of Congress, alarmed by the inflam- 
matory eloquence of such men as Cass, Foote, Doug- 
las, and Walker, of Wisconsin, took occasion to preach 
restraint and caution, but it was really not necessary. 
The whole affair was only saved from being a farce 
by the vein of genuine republicanism and defiance 
of Europe which underlay all the extravagances of 
enthusiasm and applause. When Kossuth left the 
country, in the summer of 1852, the excitement was 
over ; and all the eloquent exile had to show for his 
visit was a small amount of money. The episode 
was at an end. 

Meantime, national politics sank into a vacuity 
which reflected the prosperity of the times. The 
Congress of 1851-1852 sat for nine months, but ac- 
complished little beyond granting public lands and 
passing a river ancWiarbor bill. The large Demo- 
cratic majority ineach house found no party measure 
to consider, and the time of the members was devoted 
for weeks together to political manoeuvring with re- 
gard to the presidential election of 1852. The party 
situation was peculiar, for with no definite issue in 

1 Curtis, Webster, II., 571. 



existence success seemed to depend upon the strength 
of party loyalty, the choice of a popular candidate, 
•and the careful avoidance of any position which 
might seem to endanger the quiet between the sec- 
tions. From Free-Soilers and secessionists there was 
nothing to fear, and the prime necessity in the eyes 
of leaders was to establish their devotion and that 
of their respective parties to the compromise. Much 
time ' was devoted in party caucuses and in each 
House to the consideration of resolutions affirming 
" finality,' ' but beyond the passage of such a resolu- 
tion on April 5, by the House of Representatives, no 
definite results were attained, nor could either side 
claim any advantage over the other. 1 

Still, by the spring of 1852, it became clear that 
of the two parties the Democratic was in far better 
shape. Its discipline was restored with the return 
of the Barnburners, its northern and southern lead- 
ers were in accord, and its recent successes in con- 
gressional and state elections gave it courage. For 
the Whigs, on the other hand, the situation looked 
ominous. They had lost steadily for two years in 
congressional and state elections; the respectable 
Fillmore administration did nothing to win prestige ; 
and the chasm between southern and northern 
Whigs, however carefully ignored by the leaders, 
must be revealed the moment the question of a 
presidential candidate or platform was raised. Upon 

1 Cong. Globe, 32 Cong., 1 Sess., 6-9; Von Hoist, United States, 
IV., 105-117, 976-983. 




what common ground could men like Toombs and 
Seward meet? Would the southern wing be satis- 
fied with anything short of an explicit adoption by 
the party of the southern position as laid down in 
the " Georgia Platform," and the nomination of a 
man thoroughly committed to the execution of the 
fugitive - slave law? Could the Seward Whigs ac- 
cept such a programme, or hold their constituents 
if they did so? 

The party nominations and platforms in 1852 were 
of a purely partisan and wholly uninteresting char- 
acter. The Democratic convention, held June 1, 
at Baltimore, added to its earlier platforms a new 
resolution pledging the party to a faithful execution 
of the compromise measures, " the act for reclaiming 
fugitive slaves included," and promising to resist all 
attempts at renewing the agitation of the slavery 
question. 1 Then for three days it struggled over the 
problem of a candidate, unable to secure a majority 
vote for Cass, Marcy, Buchanan, or Douglas, until on 
the forty-ninth ballot the convention suddenly found 
a solution of the difficulty in a carefully prepared 
' 1 stampede" towards Franklin Pierce, of New Hamp- 
shire. Pierce was not a man of national prominence, 
but he had held a respectable place in public life, was 
personally attractive, kindly in manner and feelings, 
with no record to attack and no enemies to fear. 2 
Immeasurably inferior to either of the four men he 

1 Stanwood, Hist, of the Presidency, 249. 

2 Hawthorne, Pierce, 109 et seq. 



supplanted, he was a safe selection under the exist- 
ing conditions. The candidate for vice-president 
was William R. King, senator from Alabama. 

Two weeks later the Whig convention met at the 
same place and hastily adopted, without debate and 
over loud protests from many northern members, a 
platform which had been framed by the Georgia 
Whigs and was intended to satisfy all elements. 
The first two resolutions committed the party to the 
doctrine of states rights, and the eighth resolution 
declared the compromise acts, "the Fugitive Slave 
Law included,' ' to be a settlement of the slavery ques- 
tion, and pledged the party to maintain them until 
time should demonstrate the necessity of further 
legislation, and to discountenance all efforts to renew 
the slavery agitation. 1 The concession to the north- 
ern Whigs lay in the careful avoidance of the term 
"final." In selecting a candidate the convention 
found its members divided between three aspirants, 
each with a devoted band of followers. General 
Winfield Scott was supported by northern Whigs, 
who hoped to repeat the success of Taylor in 1848, 
while on the other side the compromising or " final- 
ity" vote was divided between Webster, with the 
New England contingent behind him, and Fillmore, 
who received southern votes. The stubbornness of 
the followers of the last two candidates made them 
unable to combine against Scott, 2 and protracted the 

1 Stanwood, Hist, of the Presidency, 251. 

2 Curtis, Webster, II. » 620-627. 



contest for fifty -three ballots, but the gradual 
change of a few delegates finally gave Scott a 

The immediate impression of these nominations 
upon the country was significant. Pierce received 
hearty support from all elements of the Democratic 
party, southern as well as northern, Unionist as well 
as secessionist, "Barnburner" as well as "Hunker," 
while Scott repelled the southern Whigs. The south- 
ern Union party of 1851 was now entirely broken 
up, its Democratic contingent supporting Pierce; 
while its Whigs either yielded a reluctant support to 
Scott or openly bolted. July 3 a number of leading 
southern Whigs, headed by Stephens and Toombs, 
published a manifesto announcing their purpose to 
oppose Scott as not sufficiently in favor of the com- 
promises. 1 Others in Georgia formed a Webster elec- 
toral ticket. In short, the campaign had hardly 
opened when it was seen that the Whig party, in 
spite of the adoption of a compromise platform, had 
driven away by its nomination those elements which 
had given it victory in 1848. 2 Hoping to revive their 
party, the Free-Soilers rallied in August at Pittsburg 
and nominated John P. Hale for president on a plat- 
form which reiterated the protest of 1848 against the 
existence of slavery in the territories, denied the 
finality of the compromise, denounced the fugitive- 
slave law as repugnant to the Constitution, to Chris- 

1 Cluskey, Political Text Book, 682. 

8 Hodgson, Cradle of Confederacy, 323-330. 



tianity, and the sentiments of the civilized world, and 
demanded its repeal. 1 

Since there was no real issue except the personality 
of the candidates, the campaign of 1852 was trivial 
and unenthusiastic . Scott 's attempts to win over the 
German and Irish vote, during a thinly disguised 
stumping tour in the west, provoked ridicule, and 
the contest soon degenerated into petty abuse and 
personalities. Pierce was painted as a coward in the 
Mexican War and a drunkard in private life, and 
Scott was held up as a miracle of vanity and inepti- 
tude. 2 The most vigorous efforts of the Whigs to 
stir up enthusiasm for "the hero of Lundy's Lane, 
Contreras and Churubusco" fell flat, and the result 
of the election was foreseen weeks before the vote 
took place. Pierce's victory was overwhelming. 
He carried every state except Massachusetts, Ver- 
mont, Kentucky, and Tennessee, and received 254 
electoral votes to Scott's 42. In the south, the Whig 
vote shrank to small figures. In the north, the Free 
Democratic party, as the revived Free Soil organiza- 
tion now styled itself, polled only 155,825 votes, and 
had no direct influence upon the result. 

The Whig leaders and newspapers seemed stupe- 
fied by the completeness of their defeat. It was true 
that the election decided nothing more than a change 
of office-holders: no new policy was presaged; no 
alteration of sectional balance was indicated; but 

1 Stanwood, Hist, of the Presidency, 253. 

2 Rhodes. United States, I., 269-277. 



the failure of the party to retain its southern support 
was ominous, and, in spite of the large popular vote 
drawn by Scott in the north, the future seemed dark. 
For over a year all energy departed from Whig party 
activity, and in 1853 it suffered renewed severe de- 
feats in state elections. 

Fillmore's last months in office went by in peace, the 
short session of Congress (185 2-1 853) contributing 
nothing of importance to public interest other than 
sundry debates upon foreign affairs, the only quarter 
where any new developments were looked upon as 
likely to occur. Pierce was inaugurated March 4, 
1853, in the full sunshine of popularity, and delivered 
an optimistic address to the greatest concourse ever 
assembled in Washington on such an occasion. All 
elements, Whig as well as Democratic, were disposed 
to look favorably upon the handsome, affable presi- 
dent whose aims seemed so high and whose prospects 
appeared so secure. His cabinet was conciliatory in 
its make-up. Marcy, the secretary of state, had 
been a leader of the New York " Hunkers," but Mc- 
Clelland, of Michigan, had been an antislavery man; 
Guthrie, secretary of the treasury, and Dobbin, of 
the navy department, were conservative southern 
Democrats, but Davis, of Mississippi, the secretary 
of war, had been a Southern Rights leader in 1851; 
Caleb Cushing, of Massachusetts, the attorney-gen- 
eral, able, shrewd, and considered shifty, had only 
recently come out of the Whig party. All elements 
were represented. 



So ended a period of political stagnation, interest- 
ing only as showing how the American public, by 
sheer effort of will, could force itself into old lines 
of political habit and ignore a vital question. The 
success of the effort in arresting sectional contro- 
versy was undeniable, but, as far as the Whigs were 
concerned, the refusal of the southern members to 
support the party nominee in 1852 showed that not 
even the utmost efforts of compromising and Union- 
saving leaders could efface sectional distrust. The 
appearance of any new issue might instantly destroy 
the artificial calm. 

VOL. XVIII. — 4 



IN the contest of nationalism against sectionalism, 
which was seen to be inevitable after 1844, the 
triumph of the Unionists in 1850 and the years fol- 
lowing was due largely to the fact that the weight of 
leadership and party tradition was with the com- 
promisers. To keep the slavery question suppressed 
and to prevent the sections from again coming into 
conflict in Congress, the same strong leadership must 
continue; but unfortunately for the finality of the 
compromise, the leaders who had won that victory 
soon passed off the stage and left no successors of 
equal influence. The result was the ultimate vic- 
tory of sectionalism in north and south, and the 
coming to the front of those radically different ideals 
and political habits which guided north and south 
into and through the Civil War. 

The distinguishing feature of the older group was 
the strong Unionism of its leaders, whether Whig or 
Democratic. The peace, perpetuity, and strength of 
the Union stood in their eyes above all other politi- 
cal ideals ; and when the slavery question arose and 



extremists in north and south insisted on forcing 
the sectional issue, they were alarmed and horrified. 
Their principles in politics were imbibed when most 
of them entered public life, in the nationalistic era 
of 181 o- 1830, 1 and they felt called on neither to 
approve nor to condemn slavery, nor, in fact, to 
concern themselves with it. In their eyes the moral 
earnestness of the abolitionist was as incomprehen- 
sible as the sincere sectionalism of the secessionist 
was abhorrent; and they were amazed and grieved 
by the fierce disapprobation of compromise by both 
kinds of extremists. Considering slavery outside 
the range of legitimate political discussion, they 
tried to exclude it first by their disapproval and then 
by compromise. 

As long as such men as Clay and Webster led the 
forces of nationalism with all the power of their per- 
sonalities and the splendor of their eloquence, the 
spirit of Union triumphed ; but Clay's work was done 
when the compromise of 1850 was carried through; 
he took little part in events thereafter, beyond 
speaking in the Senate in behalf of "finality." His 
death, in June, 1852, was regarded as a national loss, 
and Whig and Democrat alike paid him glowing 
tributes and united in recognizing the passing of a 
great American leader whose sun had set in peaceful 
skies, for he had outlived personal ambition. 

Not so with Webster : to the last he hoped for the 
Whig nomination for the presidency, and when Scott 
1 Cf . Turner, New West {Am. Nation, XIV.) , chap, xviii. 


was selected over him his bitterness and grief were 
intense. He even advised his intimate friends to 
vote for Pierce, and died in October, 1852, a sad- 
dened man. In New England his death was mourned 
as the loss of the foremost citizen, and even his bitter- 
est critics, the Free-Soilers, admitted his intellectual 
greatness ; but outside of his own constituency only 
the conservative Whigs felt his loss. Something in 
Webster's personality prevented him, in death as 
in life, from rivalling the popularity and national 
standing of his rival, Clay. 

Most of the other strong Unionist leaders retired 
from political life about the same time. Among the 
northern Jacksonian Democrats, Van Buren made 
his last appearance in politics in 1848; in 185 1 
Woodbury died, and Dickinson lost his seat in the 
Senate; and of the Webster Whigs, Winthrop, of 
Massachusetts, and Ewing, of Ohio, retired in 1851, 
and Corwin in 1853. At the south, Benton, the 
senatorial Hercules of the Jacksonian Unionists, lost 
his seat in 1851, and consumed his remaining days 
in a gallant but futile struggle to regain power in 
his state ; and Foote, who had led the Unionist forces 
in Mississippi, did not re-enter national politics af- 
ter 1 85 1. Among the southern Whigs, Berrien, of 
Georgia, retired from the Senate in 1851, and Man- 
gum, of North Carolina, in 1853. Most of these men 
were of the older school, except perhaps Foote, and 
their public conduct was guided by a tradition of 
formal statesmanship inherited from the first dec- 

I8 5 2] 



ades of the century. Their simultaneous departure 
from the field of national politics left the leadership 
of Union feeling to men who were at once less able 
to control sentiment and less skilful in congressional 
and executive direction. 

The surviving Unionists, during the years 1853- 
1860, were stronger in the Democratic party than in 
the Whig, especially since they counted among their 
number the one man who had the ability to succeed 
Clay as a congressional and popular orator. Stephen 
A. Douglas entered public life in the preceding dec- 
ade, and by experience in House and Senate had 
become, by 1850, the keenest parliamentarian of his 
party and the foremost man in the west. He was a 
strong defender of the compromises, totally indif- 
ferent to slavery as an institution, and devoted to 
Unionism in the same way that Webster and Clay 
had been. His ability as a public speaker, which 
gave him party leadership in the Senate, made him 
the idol of the Illinois Democrats and won him the 
admiration of his party in most states; while his 
force and energy so dominated his short frame that 
he was known as "the Little Giant." Douglas was 
better suited than any other man in the United 
States to maintain Unionism against antislavery 
sentiment in the north, but, unfortunately for his 
success, he was hampered by his very facility in 
debate and in party leadership, for he lacked caution 
and insight into the conditions of popular feeling. 
Unable to comprehend the force of moral indigna- 



tion against slavery, he was led through overcon- 
fidence in his own powers into grave mistakes of 
policy which eventually ruined his cause. 1 

Other Democratic Unionists were Cass, Buchanan, 
and Marcy, rivals with Douglas in the national con- 
vention of 1852. Of these Marcy was the strongest 
in character, an experienced Jacksonian politician 
of New York, a member of the "Albany Regency," 
and the originator of the famed phrase "to the vic- 
tors belong the spoils of the enemy." Marcy was, 
however, much more than a spoilsman: he was a 
hard-headed, aggressive Democratic partisan, with 
none of the popular power of his younger rival, 
Douglas, but with much more caution and political 
shrewdness. His later career as secretary of state 
under Pierce was his last appearance in politics, and 
his death in 1857 removed one of the steadying in- 
fluences in his party. Cass and Buchanan remained 
in public life to the end of the period, and, with 
Douglas, stood forward as representatives of the 
compromise Democracy. Of the two, Cass had the 
greater native ability, and from his long career in 
Michigan and his vigorous personality had a fairly 
strong hold over the party in the northwest. Like 
Douglas, he does not seem to have had any compre- 
hension of the depth of the moral opposition to 
slavery in the north, and his eagerness to settle 
sectional questions by compromise or by finding 
some way to appease southern threats won him, 
1 See Brown, Douglas. 




among abolitionists and Free-Soilers, the name of 
" Arch-dough-face. " Buchanan, with less courage 
and personal strength than Marcy, held somewhat 
the same position in Pennsylvania, where his con- 
servative, steadily partisan record made him the 
special representative of the highly conservative 
Democratic party of that state. At no time in his 
career did a spark of originality disturb his utter- 
ances ; but he had a political shrewdness which stood 
him in good stead. These men, strongly intrenched 
in the party machinery of their section, were pre- 
pared to make an obstinate fight for the principles 
of Unionism through compromise. 

Among the Whigs the Unionist leadership was 
far weaker/ Edward Everett, of Massachusetts, elo- 
quent, honorable, a lover of concord and harmony, 
was sent to the Senate to succeed Webster, but he 
lacked the fighting quality of men like Douglas, and 
could not retain leadership. Fillmore, after his re- 
tirement from the presidency, remained a figurehead 
for conservative Whigs, but he had no power over 
people; nor did Fish, the New York Whig senator 
who replaced Dickinson in 185 1, prove to be a strong 
leader ; while Choate, of Massachusetts, distinguished 
for eloquence and brilliancy, lacked the willingness 
to throw himself heart and soul into a contest for 
party supremacy. Nowhere among the Whigs did 
there appear a figure of national prominence able 
to carry on the work of Clay and Webster 

At the south, the sincere Unionists were tempora- 

4 6 


rily reinforced, in 1850, by a large number of Whigs 
and Democrats, who later showed that at heart they 
were more sectional than national. If these be left 
aside, the number of consistent Union leaders who 
remained in public life after the death or retirement 
of Clay, Benton, Berrien, and the rest, was compara- 
tively small. Houston, of Texas, an original Jack- 
sonian, was a picturesque figure in the Senate and a 
personality of influence in his own state, where to 
the end he upheld the cause of Unionism against 
secession. Bell, of Tennessee, a man without great 
gifts as either speaker or thinker, but popular in his 
own section and a leader of steady Unionism, was 
joined in the Senate by Crittenden, of Kentucky, a 
man of Clay's type with all of Clay's fervent Union- 
ism and much of Clay's personal hold over the peo- 
ple. Up to the verge of the Civil War these three 
men, with Clayton, of Delaware, a strenuous debater 
although a rather unsuccessful diplomat, struggled 
to maintain the traditions of Clay, carrying on a 
contest in their section parallel to that waged by 
the northern Unionists. 

Now that the passions aroused by the civil conflict 
have retired into the past, it is possible to credit 
these Unionists, northern and southern, with more 
genuine honesty and patriotism than it was custom- 
ary to ascribe to them in earlier years. The northern 
Doughface, willing to make concessions to the south 
for the sake of peace, the southern Unionist, ready 
to forego an opportunity to advance the interests of 




slavery if by so doing he could preserve the Union, 
were not cowards nor traitors to their sections ; they 
were stimulated by an ideal no less than were their 
opponents ; and their failure discredits not so much 
their patriotism or moral earnestness as their powers 
to meet the difficult task imposed upon them. Cer- 
tainly a large majority of the American people looked 
to these men as true patriots, inspired by the senti- 
ments expressed in Longfellow's apostrophe to the 
Union in his ''Building of the Ship," published in 
1850; and even as late as i860 a great majority of 
the wealthier classes at north and south still held to 
their point of view. 

Opposed to these Unionists there stood in the 
north a growing number of antislavery political 
leaders who regarded politics from a wholly different 
point of view. In their eyes the controversy over 
slavery was not a distressing interruption to normal 
politics, but was an inevitable consequence of their 
highest convictions. The Union, they too professed 
to uphold, and they uniformly denounced secession, 
but they were ready to risk harmony and peace 
within the Union for the sake of righting what they 
considered a wrong. Admitting their impotence to 
interfere with slavery in the states, and for the most 
part disclaiming the desire to do so, they insist- 
ed that slavery must not be extended into additional 
territory, nor fostered by the federal government. 
Such Unionism was very different from that of Clay 
or Foote : it meant that a peculiar interest of one sec- 


tion was not to receive national support or counte- 
nance ; and it did not prevent a feeling towards the 
south ranging from hostile criticism to savage dis- 

The earliest representatives of this northern sec- 
tionalism had been John Quincy Adams and Joshua 
R. Giddings in the House, 1 joined later by Hale, of 
New Hampshire, in the Senate. Adams died in 1848, 
but Giddings and Hale continued in Congress during 
most of this decade, where as open agitators they 
made incessant attacks on slavery. Of the two, Gid- 
dings was bitter and aggressive, Hale keen and 
humorous ; but each had an unerring scent for those 
interests of slavery which on their face did not refer 
to the "institution." The Free Soil agitation and 
the controversy over the compromise of 1850 brought 
into office a number of men who were destined to be 
the country's leaders in the period of civil war and 
reconstruction. Two of these were Free-Soilers — 
Chase, of Ohio, and Sumner, of Massachusetts — men 
who fought together the battle of antislavery, and, 
while very different in personal qualities, were united 
by a lasting friendship and confidence. Chase was 
in some respects the abler of the two, gifted with 
strong practical sense in legislative matters, good 
powers of debate, and some of the useful qualities of 
the managing politician. He was a large man in 
every way but one; he was deficient in a sense of 
party loyalty, and, by his willingness to advance his 
1 Cf . Hart, Slavery and Abolition (Am. Nation, XVI.) , chap, xviii. 



own interests without concerning himself much about 
his political friends, had won a reputation for self- 
seeking which stood in his way in later life. In the 
Senate, however, his bearing was admirable. 1 The 
northern compromisers and southern sectionalists 
had no more dangerous opponent. Sumner, his col- 
league, was a narrower man, less of a politician and 
less of a legislator, his main interests lying in the 
slavery contest. He brought with him to the Senate 
a florid eloquence, a biting tongue in debate, and an 
unflinching courage in enunciating the doctrines of 
the antislavery philosophy in the teeth of the south- 
erners, which was later to cost him dearly. 2 

Wholly different from these men were two anti- 
slavery Whigs who now came forward. Wade, of 
Ohio, was a fighting northern partisan, a rough, 
fearless, practical westerner, with none of Sumner's 
eastern scholarship and little of Chase's solid legal 
training and ability, but well suited to aid these 
men in undermining the hold of compromisers upon 
the north. Seward, of New York, elected in 1849, 
was still different, for he was as much politician 
as antislavery statesman. Trained under Thurlow 
W T eed, the master of the Whig machine in New York, 
he knew all the details of party management and was 
ever guided in his senatorial career by considerations 
of party and personal policy. He did not love a 
fight, as did Hale, Chase, and Sumner; and his 

1 Hart, Chase, chaps, iv., v. 

2 Pierce, Sumner , I., chaps, xxxv.-xlii. 


speeches in the Senate were rather party and personal 
manifestoes than a share in a give-and-take debate ; 
but his reputation as party leader often gave them 
an importance which the more strictly forensic efforts 
of the others failed to secure. 1 

At a later time these leaders were joined by a host 
of other antislavery representatives, in House and 
Senate, especially Trumbull, of Illinois, a hard-hit- 
ting debater, and Wilson, of Massachusetts, an anti- 
slavery politician with a power of party management 
equal to Seward's. No one of these men, however, 
was individually the equal of Douglas, and it was not 
until Abraham Lincoln issued from private life in 
1858 that his hold upon the west was shaken. 

Over against the northern radicals stood a group 
of southern proslavery statesmen, destined to lead 
their states into secession and civil war. These men, 
whether nominally Whigs or Democrats, differed 
from their great forerunner, Calhoun, in openly and 
frankly holding that the sectional interests of their 
states were superior to any incompatible claims of 
the Union, and in making that the main-spring of 
their action. They regarded the north with uncon- 
cealed suspicion and hostility, and were equally 
ready to secede or to stay, according to the benefits 
which their section derived from the situation. In- 
asmuch as their attitude was the most direct threat 
to the perpetuity of the Union, they were regarded 
by the northern Unionists as the chief power to be 
1 Cf. Bancroft, Seward, I., chaps, xii.-xxi. 



conciliated, and thence came their strong influence 
over such Whigs as Webster, Everett, and Choate, 
and such Democrats as Cass and Buchanan. No 
group of men in the country was so powerful: they 
dictated platforms, inspired executive policy in do- 
mestic and foreign affairs, and exercised in Congress 
an almost unbroken parliamentary supremacy. Ut- 
terly fearless in debate, they assumed and main- 
tained a masterful control over less belligerent north- 
erners, overawing them by their greater fluency of 
speech, their readiness to resort to personalities, and 
their hot tempers, which the social influence of the 
slave-holding south had not taught them to bridle. 1 
Among the more significant of these leaders were 
several former Unionists. Senator Toombs, of Geor- 
gia, whose reputation in the north was that of one of 
the hottest of the "fire-eaters," was really less ex- 
treme than many other southerners. Elected as a 
Whig to succeed Berrien in the Senate in 185 1, he 
showed himself a man of great eloquence and strong 
personal assertiveness. In debate he held the fore- 
most place until Jefferson Davis, of Mississippi, re- 
turned to his chair in 1857, when he became the 
southern spokesman. Davis was a more logical 
speaker than Toombs, less diffuse, and keener. 
When matched, as he was later, against the adroit 
and slippery Douglas, Davis, by his directness and 
singleness of aim, showed himself his equal. These 
two men, insisting on the rectitude of slavery and 
1 Brown, Lower South, 61, 80. 


the rights of the states, proved too strong for the 
southern Unionists. 

Yet neither Toombs nor Davis at that time was a 
secessionist; each avowed his preference for a con- 
tinuance of the Union, but each showed clearly that 
when the choice had to be made between secession 
and a Union in which slavery was restricted, they 
would prefer disunion. Some other southerners 
were ready for secession at any time, notably William 
L. Yancey, of Alabama, a man of great popular elo- 
quence, a born agitator and stump-speaker, whose 
desire for a separation from the north was so strong 
that he refused to serve in any federal office. Quit- 
man, of Mississippi, a strong advocate of Cuban an- 
nexation, was also ready for secession as soon as 
possible, and many South-Carolinians, notably Barn- 
well Rhett, who remained out of politics during most 
of this decade. Both Senate and House in these 
years contained a group of southerners of the Davis 
and Yancey type, all marked by the same readiness 
in debate, sensitiveness to the rights of their section, 
and self-confident spirit in all affairs. They had a 
dash, a vigor, a parliamentary "gallantry," to use 
the favorite southern adjective, entirely lacking 
among northern representatives. Such men as the 
fiery Stephens, of Georgia, Howell Cobb and Iver- 
son of the same state, Clement C. Clay, the leading 
Alabama "fire-eater," and A. G. Brown, of Missis- 
sippi, had an advantage in debate not disturbed, 
until just before the Civil War the break-down of 

i8 5 8] 



Unionist sentiment at the north allowed a number 
of radical opponents of slavery to enter Congress and 
meet the fire-eaters with equal spirit, if not with 
equal eloquence. 

The older generation of statesmen took with them 
into the grave or into retirement not merely their 
lively Unionist spirit, but also their old-fashioned 
opposition to a partisan civil service. As a rule, 
men like Clay, Webster, Adams, and, above all others, 
Calhoun, had no love for office-broking, and looked 
with contempt upon such political manipulation as 
was perfected by Van Buren, Weed, and other ma- 
chine managers. But the rising generation of party 
leaders in the north entertained no such feelings. 
Davis, Toombs, Seward, Chase, Lincoln, and Doug- 
las alike considered the filling of offices with personal 
and party friends as the natural course of events. 1 
The last relic of reluctance to avow the principles of 
rotation in office was exhibited when the Whigs, 
under Taylor and Fillmore, still affected to consider 
the turning out of Democrats to make place for 
office-seekers a " reform." The claim was de- 
nounced as hypocrisy by the defeated party. "Ap- 
pointments and removals," said Bright, of Indiana, 
in the Senate, "were made throughout the Union 
and in every state on the sole ground that the in- 
cumbent was a Democrat and the applicant a Whig. 
If the removals had been made on this ground I do 

Salmon, Appointing Power, 76-85; Fish, Civil Service and 
Patronage, 161-164. 


not believe there is a decapitated officer . . . that 
would have uttered a voice of complaint. . . . But 
when . . . the monstrous defence is set up that our 
friends were dishonest, unfaithful and incompetent, 
a reply is demanded. . . . Recollect, Mr. President, I 
am not complaining of the removal of my political 
friends, when that removal is made under the regu- 
lar rules and articles of political warfare." 1 

When Pierce came in, the pressure for office was 
overwhelming; and the kind-hearted president, be- 
wildered by the unbounded demands of office-seekers, 
and unable to say " no " to any one, was driven to 
distraction before the expiration of a year of his term. 
His fruitless efforts to please everybody succeeded 
merely in causing heart-burnings, and in leading to a 
complete rupture of the New York Democrats into 
two factions, the Hard-shells and the Soft-shells, who 
formed distinct organizations and remained bitterly 
at war for three years. 2 

Four years later, at the accession of Buchanan, the 
theory of rotation in office reached its full develop- 
ment, for although one Democratic president suc- 
ceeded another, the pressure for removals was nearly 
as strong as though there had been a party change. 
Accordingly, almost without arousing comment, Bu- 
chanan turned large numbers of Pierce's appointees 
out of office in order to make places for new Demo- 

1 Cong. Globe, 31 Cong., 2 Sess., 155, 156. 

2 Fish, Civil Service and Patronage, 165; Rhodes, United States, 
I.i 38s-3 8 9. 399- 419-421. 



cratic incumbents. 1 Marcy merely provoked a smile 
when he remarked, "They have it that I am the 
author of the doctrine that 'to the victors belong 
the spoils,' but I should never recommend the policy 
of pillaging my own camp." The last vestiges of 
opposition to the reign of spoils in federal offices 
seemed to have disappeared. At the south, how- 
ever, the system was less fully developed. The per- 
sonal and local character of politics prevented the 
rise of a class of office-seekers dependent upon pat- 
ronage for a livelihood, and kept the federal service 
in these states comparatively free from plunder. 2 

Another feature of the new politics of the decade 
was the appearance of corruption. The industrial 
development of the north at this time, the growth of 
large cities, and the influx of hundreds of thousands 
of ignorant foreigners, largely Irish and German, 
produced the first unmistakable signs of a new era 
in machine politics. For the first time one encoun- 
ters in the newspapers of these years rumors of the 
lavish use of money in elections and of bribery in 
legislatures. Actual corruption was proved in con- 
nection with land grants by a Wisconsin legislature 
in 1856, and with the tariff of 1857. " Bribery is com- 
paratively of recent introduction in our country,' ' 
wrote one observer. " Its effects are only very par- 

1 Fish, Civil Service and Patronage, 166; Salmon, Appoint- 
ing Power, 84; Taney to Pierce, August 29, 1857, in Am. Hist. 
Rev., X., 359. 

2 Charleston Mercury, April 4, 1857; Fish, Civil Service and 
Patronage, 157. 

vol. xviii.— 5 


tially developed, but the rapid progress it has made 
within a few years is a fact too prominent to be over- 
looked and a warning too serious and too significant 
to be disregarded. ... In some states wealthy and 
powerful corporations have usurped absolute power, 
controlling both the legislative and judicial action — 
its officers openly boasting that they carry the state 
in their pockets and that their corporation is rich 
enough to buy any legislation they want." 1 There 
is no reason to suppose that one party was materially 
better than the other : a Democratic legislature and 
Republican governor in Wisconsin took " gratuities" 
from a railway with equal facility, 2 and though the 
municipal corruption of New York City occurred 
under Democratic rule, the largest defaulter in a 
state office at this time was a Republican treasurer 
of Ohio during Chase's governorship. 

Two scandals connected with cabinet officers took 
place under Whig administrations: the Galphin 
claim, in which George W. Crawford, secretary of 
war under Taylor, secured one-half the payment of 
the arrears of interest on a Revolutionary claim, 
amounting to ninety-four thousand dollars ; and the 
Gardiner claim, where Corwin, as secretary of the 
treasury, received large sums from a claim later 
proved fraudulent. 3 In Buchanan's term, also, the 
Covode investigation, of a bitterly partisan char- 

1 Hazard, Economics and Politics, 118, 120. 

1 Tuttle, Wisconsin, 346, 356. 

3 Rhodes, United States, I., 203, 298. 



acter, found evidence of corruption in purchasing 
votes in Congress for an administration measure by 
contracts, offices, and money bribes. These charges 
Buchanan denied sweepingly but ineffectually. 1 It 
was definitely proved at the outbreak of the Civil 
War that Floyd, Buchanan's secretary of war, was 
a defaulter under circumstances which showed a 
singularly dull sense of official propriety. 

In New York City the employment of municipal 
offices to fill the pockets of party leaders was now 
in full operation. During years of turbulent poli- 
tics, in which the figure of Fernando Wood, the first 
successful city boss, occupied the central place, the 
voters struggled with dishonest primary inspectors, 
corrupt election judges, and self-seeking leaders whose 
desire for reform was wholly subordinate to their 
personal interests. In 1853 there came an exposure 
of corruption of the kind which on many later occa- 
sions has produced waves of " reform." Bribery in 
the awarding of street railway franchises, corrupt 
contracts, the sale of offices, and inefficiency on the 
part of the police were revealed ; but the strong con- 
trol maintained by Wood over the voters was suffi- 
cient to bring him into power after a brief interval 
of "reform" government by a coalition candidate. 2 

In the decade after 1850 the elements of later 
political life were plainly visible. The old methods 
of Jacksonian days were superseded by a more so- 

1 House Exec. Docs., 36 Cong., 1 Sess., No. 648. 

2 Myers, Tammany Hall, 178-230. 


phisticated machinery, in which the nominating con- 
vention, party committee, and newspaper organ were 
not merely means for carrying elections, but were 
the field of operations of a perfectly well-defined 
class of professional politicians. The industrial rev- 
olution taking place in American economic life was 
affecting politics and making of them a business in 
city and country. The advent of a new political 
generation in the north meant the control of political 
life by men who were at the same time more elevated 
than their predecessors in their conception of per- 
sonal liberty, and less elevated towards party or- 
ganization and corrupt politics. 



ONE of the chief reasons for the hearty accept- 
ance of the compromise measures as a final 
settlement was the fact that they were adopted in 
the midst of an era of great economic prosperity and 
optimism. To the men of the decade before the 
Civil War, the real interests of the country were 
financial, commercial, and industrial, and in their 
eyes the slavery controversy was an annoying inter- 
ruption. Foremost among the causes for congratu- 
lation after the compromise was the opportunity 
for undivided attention to the absorbing expansion 
of the country's business. 

The most striking economic fact of these years is 
the extension of the railway systems of the United 
States from the seaboard into the great plains, and 
the creation of a new economic balance. Under the 
influence of this new opportunity for exchange there 
came a great growth of American manufacturing, 
stimulated in addition by the sudden deluge of Cali- 
fornian gold and the temporary disorganization of 
European economic conditions through the Crimean 


War. All these agencies combined to bring an era 
of confidence, hope, and expansion in agriculture, in- 
dustry, and finance. 

The construction of the first railways began slowly 
in the eastern states, 1 and for many years was car- 
ried on as an adjunct to river, canal, or other water 
carriage. The total number of miles built from 1830 
to 1848 was under 6000; but after that year rail- 
roads suddenly became a mania, and no less than 
16,500 miles were laid down between 1849 and 1857, 
the larger part in the interior. The barrier of the 
Appalachian Mountain system was penetrated by 
seven trunk lines, and these by their connections in 
the central states were able to reach the Ohio River 
at eight places and the Mississippi at ten. The first 
railroad to make a through connection to the lakes 
was the New York Central system in 1850; next 
followed the Erie road, whose completion to Dun- 
kirk in 185 1 was celebrated by a journey of the Fill- 
more cabinet, including Webster, from one end to 
the other. Farther south the Pennsylvania road 
reached Pittsburg in 1852, and the Baltimore and 
Ohio road was completed to Wheeling in 1853, the 
same year in which the Grand Trunk line was 
opened between Portland and Montreal. In con- 
trast to these important connections between the 
northern seaboard and the interior, the southern 
communications lagged behind, none being com- 

1 Cf . MacDonald, Jacksonian Democracy, chap, vii.; Hart, 
Slavery and Abolition, chap. iii. (Am. Nation, XV., XVI.). 


pleted before 1857. In this period the northeastern 
states built nearly 4000 miles, the south Atlantic 
states only 2750; the northern central states con- 
structed no less than 7530 miles, the southern in- 
terior states only 2150. 1 In the "Old Northwest" 
this expansion was fairly extravagant, railways radi- 
ating from city to city until the region speedily be- 
came a net-work. The road-beds, it is true, were 
often of such a character as to appall an English 
engineer, and the cars and engines appeared flimsy; 
but, such as they were, they represented a great 
sinking of capital in a still sparsely settled com- 

This extension of railways was not merely the 
venture of capitalists, but the absorbing interest of 
the people of the country. Where the laws permit- 
ted them, cities and counties subscribed liberally for 
the mortgage bonds which were the usual means of 
securing capital, and carried on fierce rivalries for 
the possession of railway communications. Indi- 
viduals contributed from motives of local patriotism 
as well as from a desire to speculate, and popular 
meetings to agitate for branch lines and short con- 
nections gave the movement a semi-political aspect. 
Intense indignation was stirred up in New York, 
Buffalo, Cleveland, and Cincinnati when the people 
of the town of Erie, in order to preserve business for 
their freight -handlers and hotels, forcibly prevented 
the alteration of the broad-gauge railroad tracks in 

1 Eighth Census of the U. S., Miscellaneous Statistics, 323. 



its territory to conform to the width of connecting 
lines. The "Erie war" attracted general interest 
in the early part of 1854, and the railroads were for 
a time held at bay; but the contest ended in the 
defeat of the obstructionists. All felt that the only 
salvation of a community from economic death de- 
pended upon good steam communications with the 
eastern seaboard, or at least with the leading lake or 
river cities. In this way, in the years from 1850- 
1857, the main lines of the present railway system 
of the United States east of Chicago were brought 
into being. 1 

Westerners rose to rhapsody in contemplating the 
situation. "The West is no longer the West, nor 
even the great West," said an enthusiastic Ohioan, 
"it is the great Centre. . . . The change is coming 
upon us so rapidly that only the young can fully 
appreciate it. Like a splendid dream will it appear 
to people of mature age. Before the census of i860, 
the whistle of the locomotive and the roar of the 
rolling train will be heard at nearly every house and 
hamlet of the wide central plain, and no one but a 
hermit will be willing to live beyond the cheering 
sounds. . . . The imagination can conceive nothing 
more imposing than this march of humanity west- 
ward, to enter into possession of 'Time's noblest 
Empire.'" 2 

The telegraph, also, first used extensively in this 

1 Rhodes, United States, III., 21. 

2 De Bow's Review, XV., 50 (July, 1853). 



decade, spread with the railways and branched into 
every important community. Mail routes took im- 
mediate advantage of the new lines, and Congress 
was led, in 1851, to pass a cheap-postage law. By 
1855 the chief elements of the modern commercial 
world — namely, rapid transportation and prompt 
and easy communication by mail and telegraph — 
were established. 

The general effect of this rush into railroad build- 
ing was to upset the previous economic balance of 
the country. Prior to 1850 the only routes of trans- 
portation from the interior, except the turnpike 
roads over the mountains, were the Great Lakes and 
the Erie Canal or the Mississippi outlet to the Gulf. 
The traffic of the country ran, as a rule, upon north 
and south lines, the northern seaboard states trading 
with the southern by water, and the northern interior 
states reaching the southern central states and the 
exterior world by the great river system of the Mis- 
sissippi and its branches. But after 1850 the open- 
ing of the trunk lines made it possible for the farmer 
of the west to ship his wool, cattle, and grain directly 
I to the east, and receive in exchange the products of 
I eastern mills and the wares of the importer. The 
whole current of trade in the free states swung 
in a new direction within a few years. Yet the 
inland" and sea -coast navigation of these years 
did not feel the competition of railways suffi- 
ciently to keep it from continuing with great vig- 
or, carried on by a host of light - draught, high- 



sided river - steamers and a growing fleet of sail 
and steam craft upon the ocean and the Great 

The rush into railway building was accompanied 
by a rising demand for government assistance from 
the promoters in the western states, backed in most 
cases by the state legislatures. The first grant of 
public lands, in response to such an appeal, was the 
donation, in 1850, of two and a half million acres in 
the states between Lake Michigan and the Gulf of 
Mexico to the state of Illinois, by which it was to be 
transferred to the Illinois Central Railroad. This 
precedent was eagerly pressed by other western and 
southern states, but of fifteen similar land-grant 
bills to pass the Senate in 185 1, only one passed the 
House. In 1853, however, Illinois, Mississippi, 
Alabama, Missouri, and Arkansas received coveted 
grants of land to be transferred to railways, and in 
1856 no less than nineteen million acres were given 
for railroads in Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Missis- 
sippi, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota. 
The years following were busily occupied by the 
states mentioned in transmitting these gifts to rail- 
way corporations, though seldom with immediate 
satisfactory results. 1 

In addition to this federal munificence, several 
states, especially Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida, en- 
tered into financial support of railways which proved 

1 Sanborn, Cong. Grants of Land to Railways, chaps, ii.-iv., 
App. A; Hart, Practical Essays in Am. Govt., 257. 




at a later time a serious embarrassment . 1 The largest 
scheme was that of a railroad to the Pacific, to be 
built by the aid of federal land-grants of alternate 
sections along the line of the projected road. In 
spite of constant efforts by the California senators, no 
bill passed up to the Civil War, mainly because of the 
bitter quarrels over the eastern terminal ; just as rival 
towns struggled for railway connections, so the north 
and south pulled against each other in urging New 
Orleans, St. Louis, or Chicago. 

During these years the long-standing pressure for 
government aid to internal and sea-coast navigation 
was not forgotten. President Pierce's Democratic 
scruples, based on traditions of Madison, Monroe, and 
Jackson, were put to the test which Polk and Tyler 
had been obliged to meet, and, like them, Pierce did 
not flinch. In 1854 his veto blocked an internal 
improvement bill, but in 1856, when he returned five 
bills for deepening the channels of interior and sea- 
coast rivers, a Democratic Senate joined an opposi- 
tion House in passing them over his veto. 2 

Side by side with these schemes for aiding rail- 
ways and steamers went demands upon Congress and 
the state legislatures to regulate them. There was 
crying need for protection against the accidents 
which, in the age of reckless construction and 
unskilled operation, happened with appalling fre- 

1 Scott, Repudiation of State Debts, 51, 67, 98, 131; De Bow's 
Review, XX., 386 (March, 1856). 

2 Mason, Veto Power, 101-103. 


quency. The number of deaths from railway col- 
lisions and steamboat explosions and wrecks were 
such as in a time of less buoyant optimism would 
have filled the country with horror. In the first 
seven months of 1853 the New York Herald counted 
65 railway accidents; the total for 1855 was 142. 
This was equalled by the list of steamboat acci- 
dents on the western rivers, which in 1853 amounted 
to 138. 1 The states struggled, without great suc- 
cess, to render travel less murderous by placing 
pecuniary responsibility for losses upon the rail 
road companies. Congress, with more decisive re- 
sults, regulated steamboat traffic by an act passed in 
1852 which provided for the inspection and licensing 
of steam vessels engaged in interstate commerce, 
with a view to enforce safety in construction and 
equipment. 2 

Such mighty changes had marked effects in trans- 
portation and upon the agricultural life of the coun- 
try. The grain of the interior found an increased 
market in the east and in Europe, its sale abroad 
being stimulated by the reduction of the English 
corn tariffs and the loss of the Russian grain supply 
during the Crimean War. The northwest, hitherto 
content to feed the south, now found itself called 
upon to send its surplus to Europe, and the grain 
crops of the land swelled correspondingly from one 

1 De Bow's Review, XVII., 305 (September, 1854), XX., 393 
(March, 1851). 

2 Cong. Globe, 32 Cong., 1 Sess., 1667-1672, 1737-1742. 


hundred million bushels in 1850 to one hundred and 
seventy-one millions in i860, of which more than 
one-half was grown in the " Old Northwest." Ohio, 
Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin replaced New York, 
Pennsylvania, and Virginia as the leading grain 
states. In the same way the centre of the grazing 
industry passed in this decade from the northeast to 
the states north of the Ohio River and to Texas, 
which furnished the bulk of the wool grown in the 
United States. 1 

In the south the railways shared, although to a 
less degree, in causing the great prosperity of the 
cotton-growers, which in this decade of general ex- 
pansion seemed to surpass that of any other class 
in the Union. In spite of the rapid extension of the 
cotton culture in the southwest, and the increase of 
crops from an average of two million one hundred 
thousand bales before 1850 to more than three mill- 
ion three hundred thousand, the world's demand 
seemed unlimited, and the price remained at a profit- 
able level. 2 If the prosperity of the whole region 
might be gauged by the success of this single crop — 
and southern writers and speakers invariably as- 
sumed that such was the case — the south was unde- 
niably on the top wave. Never were prices for 
slaves higher nor the demand for their labor steadier. 
From all parts of the "cotton states " railroads and 
river-steamers brought to the exporting centres the 

1 Eighth Census of U, S., Agriculture, 184-191. 
* Hammond, Cotton Industry, 250, App. 1. 



one never-failing and profitable product. The value 
of exports of cotton grew from an average amount 
of sixty million dollars to a hundred millions in the 
years 185 0-1857; and it was estimated that three- 
fourths of the total world's supply was furnished by 
the Gulf states . ' ' Cotton is King, ' ' said the southern 
planter, and few ventured to contradict him. "In 
the three million bags of cotton the slave -labor 
annually throws upon the world for the poor and 
naked,' ' wrote one, "we are doing more to advance 
civilization . . . than all the canting philanthropists 
of New and Old England will do in centuries. 
Slavery is the backbone of the Northern commercial 
as it is of the British manufacturing system. . . . 
Our labor has enabled us to make New England 
rich." 1 

The agricultural prosperity of the west and south 
was matched by a new industrial prosperity in the 
northeast, where all kinds of manufacturing felt a 
great impetus. The completion of the railroad con- 
nections with the interior offered an opportunity 
which the business men of New England, New York, 
and Pennsylvania were not slow to seize upon. A 
rapid extension of manufactures followed, especial- 
ly in the staples, such as cotton goods, shoes, house- 
hold articles, and the cheaper sorts of woollens. 
The production of pig-iron increased from an esti- 
mated output of 564,755 tons in 1850 to 883,137 
in 1856, and iron manufacturing followed, although 
l De Bow's Review, XVII., 284, 365. 


more slowly. The optimism of the western farmer 
was fully equalled by the enthusiasm of the eastern 
manufacturer. 1 

In the face of the attractive field for investment 
offered by this new traffic of east with west, the long- 
established importance of the ship-building industry 
was now first threatened. In these years, between 
1850 and 1857, American shipping reached its maxi- 
mum, a flush of prosperity crowning a long period of 
success, before the inevitable decline resulting from 
the diversion of the capital once invested in it to more 
lucrative fields . These were the days of the American 
clipper-ships, marvels of speed and carrying-power 
under sail, 2 and they were also days of expansion in 
coasting-trade, new steamship lines being established 
from one end of the Atlantic seaboard to the other, 
and to Central and South America. In the trans- 
atlantic trade, the Collins line, aided by a govern- 
ment subsidy, built a fleet of paddle-wheel steamers 
which vigorously competed with the British Cunard 
mail line. Under the stimulus of the great export 
and import trade, the American merchant marine 
grew prodigiously, almost doubling its tonnage be- 
tween 1850 and 1855, so that although British ves- 
sels were given reciprocal trading privileges, fully 
three-quarters of the country's foreign trade was 
carried on in American bottoms. The change from 
wood to iron as the standard for marine construction, 

1 Swank, Iron in all Ages, 376; Stan wood, Tariff Controversies, 
II., 87. 2 Harper's Magazine, LXV., 123 Quly, 1882). 

7 o 


although officially recognized by the Lloyds in 1854, 
did not affect the well-being of American shipping 
during these years of prosperity. 1 

During this period the steady flow of gold from 
California powerfully affected the commercial imagi- 
nation, creating the general sense of an inexhaust- 
ible reservoir of wealth and stimulating commerce 
and financial expansion. Nevertheless, although 
the mints from 1850 to 1857 added an annual aver- 
age of nearly fifty millions in gold to the coinage, 
there was no sharp general rise in prices which could 
be laid to an increase in the currency. The range 
of prices in 1 850-1 £5 7 appears to have been a result 
of sanguine spirit and business confidence rather 
than of inflation. The explanation is partly to be 
found in the fact that gold became a regular article 
of export during these years, and two-thirds of the 
total product, at least, left the country. 2 

An inevitable concomitant of the expansion of 
industry and transportation was an expansion in 
banking, in order to furnish the credit necessary to 
put the new enterprises into operation. From 1850 
to 1857 the number of banks, all under state charters, 
increased from 824^01416, and the banking capital 
from $217,000,000 to $343,000,000, while circula- 
tion and deposits nearly doubled. To meet the ob- 
ligations there was a specie reserve of less than 
one-seventh, clearly indicating a speculative spirit. 

1 Wells, Our Merchant Marine, 8-1 7 ; Bates, American Marine, 
138-145. 2 Dunbar, Economic Essays, 267. 




The optimism and confidence of the country's finan- 
ciers was shown still more by the increase of loans 
from $364,000,000 to $684,000,000, the repayment 
of which rested upon the success of new industrial 
ventures and the earning power of the new rail- 
roads. 1 

The condition of these fourteen hundred banks 
was far from uniform. In the east, where the insti- 
tution of clearing-houses was now established, they 
were careful, and, on the whole, sound; but in some 
of the western and southern states, notably Illinois, 
they were recklessly extravagant and speculative. 
In nine states the revulsion against banks which 
followed the crisis of 1837 led to their absolute pro- 
hibition by state constitution or by popular refer- 
endum ; and in most states attempts were made in 
these years to regulate and safeguard the practice 
of banking. No legislation, however, was adequate 
to secure to bank-notes anything like an approxi- 
mately equal value in different states, or to prevent 
rashness in the management of bank capital; but 
for the time being universal prosperity obscured all 
doubts. 2 

The course of foreign trade in these years reflected 
the expansion of credit and commercial optimism. 
Exports, mainly of agricultural products, rose from 
$137,000,000 in 1850 to $338,000,000 in 1857, while 
imports grew at the same time from $178,000,000 to 

1 Senate Exec. Docs., 37 Cong., 2 Sess., No. 2, pp. 358-360. 

2 Sumner, Banking in all Nations, I., 416-456. 
VOL. xvni. — 6 

7 2 


$360,000,000, thus creating an annual balance against 
the United States of nearly thirty million dollars. 1 
This apparent deficit was largely made up by act- 
ual shipments of California gold and by European 
investments in American railway projects to an 
amount variously estimated at from two hundred to 
five hundred million dollars. 2 The fact is also to be 
remembered that the carrying-trade, still mainly in 
American hands, earned high freights. Notwith- 
standing contemporary alarm over an abnormal for- 
eign trade and reckless importation of luxuries, there 
is nothing to show that the commerce was beyond 
the abilities of the country. 3 

Government finances during these years offered 
no points of interest or difficulty beyond paying off 
the debts contracted during the Mexican War, for 
the annexations of California and Texas, and for 
the Gadsden purchase, and providing for coining the 
sudden flood of gold. The coinage acts of 1850 and 
1853 practically made gold the standard, with sub- 
sidiary silver. Reduction of the debt was made 
possible by a surplus revenue resulting from the 
heavy importations, and under the provisions of an 
act of 1853 Secretary Guthrie, during Pierce's ad- 
ministration, was able to purchase United States se- 
curities at market prices. In this and other ways 
the debt was reduced from $68,000,000 in 1850 to 

1 Senate Exec. Docs., 37 Cong., 2 Sess., No. 2, p. 223. 

2 Rhodes, United States, III., 53. 

3 Dunbar, Economic Essays, 268. 



less than $29,000,000 in 1857. 1 Nevertheless, gold 
continued to accumulate in the sub-treasuries, and 
although Guthrie was a firm believer in the sub- 
treasury system, and had done much to improve its 
operation, 2 he felt this hoarding to be unhealthy, 
and repeatedly recommended a revision of the cus- 
toms duties, from which nearly nine-tenths of the 
revenue was derived. 

To diminish the unwelcome surplus, the exist- 
ing tariff of 1846 was reduced in the last month of 
Pierce's administration by a bill which passed almost 
without debate and without eliciting popular interest. 
Protectionism as a political force seemed dead. The 
tariff of 1846 probably did not afford certain in- 
dustries, notably the woollen, sufficient protection 
to enable them to endure competition from English 
mills ; but although the woollen men, when the tariff 
was under consideration, exerted themselves to se- 
cure relief by getting wool on the free list, they failed. 
Only the lowest grades were so treated and the situa- 
tion in the finer woollens remained unaltered. The 
House and Senate showed great indecision, adopting 
the most inconsistent amendments, but finally they 
joined in reducing the rates on the schedules of the 
tariff of 1846 by one-fifth to one-half. The vote for 
the bill bore no relation to party or sectional feeling, 
and seems to have included both advocates of pro- 
tection and of free-trade. Every Massachusetts and 

1 Dewey, Financial Hist, of the U. S., 248-274. 
3 Kinley, Independent Treasury, 46-64. 


every South Carolina member voted for it. The 
issue which had been so prominent a generation ear- 
lier seemed to have dropped out of sight. 1 

So the country came to the end of Pierce's term 
in the flood-tide of prosperity, hopefulness, and con- 
tentment. If there were occasional doubters who 
queried the security of the foundations for the great 
expansion of credit, and doubted the immediate re- 
turns from all the new railways and mills, their 
voices were drowned in the general assertion of a 
magnificent industrial, agricultural, and financial 
future spreading before the " happiest people on 
God's earth." 

1 Stanwood, Tariff Controversies, II., 83-109. 



DURING the years after the compromise, the 
foreign relations of the United States were 
characterized by the same sense of national impor- 
tance and spirit of expansion which brought about 
the annexation of Texas, the Oregon controversy, 
and the Mexican War. 1 A feeling of "manifest des- 
tiny" was in the air; people looked for additions of 
territory to the southward, and approved of a policy 
of national assertion at the expense of neighboring 
states and of European powers. It was an era of a 
crude belief in the universal superiority of "Ameri- 
can institutions," a lofty contempt for the "effete 
monarchies" of Europe, and a strong sense of the 
righteousness of any aggressive action which the 
republic might undertake. Although the secretaries 
of state during this period were northern men of the 
older race of statesmen, Clayton, Webster, and Ever- 
ett under Fillmore, Marcy under Pierce, and Cass 
under Buchanan ; and were inclined by their political 

1 Cf. Garrison, Westward Extension {Am. Nation, XVII.), 
chaps, i., vi., xi., xiv. 


experience and their mature years towards a cau- 
tious policy, they could not avoid being influenced 
by the prevailing spirit and showing it in language 
and action. 

The chief obstacle in the way of a vigorous foreign 
policy, expressing this spirit of "manifest destiny," 
was the strong dislike which had grown up in the 
northern states towards any annexation involving 
an increase of slave territory. This feeling was 
shared by conservatives and anti-slavery men alike, 
and its existence, although veiled in the era of politi- 
cal calm, was known to the statesmen in charge of 
foreign affairs and had a strong restraining influence. 
Not even Marcy, the boldest of them all, was inclined 
to take any radical action without unmistakable 
signs of northern acquiescence. Nevertheless, so 
complete was the sectional quiet during Fillmore's 
term and the first part of Pierce's, that for a time 
an aggressive policy seemed likely to succeed. 

The defiant attitude of the democratic republic 
towards "European despotism" was illustrated by a 
series of contentions with Austria. In 1849, Clayton 
sent an emissary, Dudley A. Mann, with instructions 
to recognize the Hungarian Republic in case it ap- 
peared to be firmly established. He found Hungary 
prostrate and so took no action ; but the purpose of 
his errand became known to the Austrian govern- 
ment, 1 which instructed Huelsemann, the Austrian 
charge-J'affaires, to protest against the mission as 
1 Curtis, Webster, II. 537. 


unfriendly. It fell to Webster to respond, and he 
yielded so far to the complacency of the time as to 
write, December, 1850, a spirited reply, denying that 
the visit was an unfriendly act, and asserting the 
right of the American people to sympathize with the 
efforts of any nation to acquire liberty. He con- 
cluded with a direct comparison between Austria and 
the United States: "The power of this republic," he 
said, " at the present moment is spread over a region 
one of the richest and most fertile on the globe, and 
of an extent in comparison with which the possessions 
of the House of Hapsburg are but a patch on the 
earth's surface. . . . Life, liberty, property, and per- 
sonal rights are amply secured to all citizens and 
protected by just and stable laws ; and credit, public 
and private, is as well established as in any gov- 
ernment of continental Europe. . . . Certainly the 
United States may be pardoned, even by those who 
profess adherence to the principles of absolute gov- 
ernments, if they entertain an ardent affection for 
those popular forms of political organization which 
have so rapidly advanced their own prosperity and 
happiness, and enabled them in so short a period to 
bring their country and the hemisphere to which it 
belongs to the notice and respectful regard — not to 
say the admiration — of the civilized world." 1 

Immediately following this letter, which Webster 
wrote, as he explained, in hopes of stimulating pride 
in the Union, the Kossuth craze came to emphasize 

1 Senate Exec. Docs., 31 Cong., 2 Sess., No. 9, p. 7. 


the popular sympathy with republican aspirations, 
and the general detestation of Austria and Russia. 1 
In 1853 a similar opportunity was presented to 
Marcy, when Martin Koszta, a Hungarian refugee to 
the United States, who had declared his intention of 
becoming a citizen, returned to Europe before com- 
pleting his naturalization and was seized by an 
Austrian cruiser in a Turkish port. Captain Ingra- 
ham, of the United States man-of-war St. Louis, took 
the bold step of forcing the Austrian vessel to release 
Koszta, and Huelsemann promptly presented a de- 
mand for reparation and the disavowal of his be- 
havior; but Marcy, in a long despatch, absolutely 
refused any conciliatory action and justified Ingra- 
ham's course. 2 

National scorn of monarchical customs was also 
amusingly exhibited by a circular, issued when 
Marcy took charge of the state department, which ad- 
vised American representatives at foreign courts not 
to wear any ceremonial uniforms, but to appear " like 
Franklin, in the simple costume of an American citi- 
zen." The sensation produced at several European 
capitals by the appearance of American ministers in 
ordinary civilian clothes was as ludicrous as it was 
genuine ; and in Prussia, Spain, and France they were 
practically compelled to invent a court dress. Mason, 
at Paris, chose a fancy costume concocted by a Dutch 
tailor after the model of the servants of the Austrian 

1 See above, p. 30. 

2 Senate Exec. Docs., 33 Cong., 1 Sess., No. i, pp. 25-49. 


legation. Buchanan, at London, provoked sneers in 
Conservative newspapers and had some difficulties 
with the master of ceremonies, but was finally al- 
lowed to attend in the " ordinary dress of an Ameri- 
can citizen," to which, in order to distinguish himself 
from the court servants, he thoughtfully added a 
small sword. By this episode, as by the Austrian 
correspondence, notice was served upon Europe of 
the independent, democratic standards of the Amer- 
ican republic. 1 

In diplomatic dealings involving positive action, 
the United States showed a vigorous attitude in 
minor matters in the far east. Under Webster and 
Marcy the Japanese government was obliged to re- 
ceive the expedition of Commodore Perry in 1853, 
and to make a commercial treaty the next year, 
which opened Japanese ports to American trade and 
began the process of introducing western civiliza- 
tion. 2 Marcy went so far as to attempt to annex 
Hawaii, a step from which Webster had recoiled, 
and his plan was only wrecked by the death of the 
Hawaiian king in 185 4. 3 Nearer home, a boundary 
question, arising over the line laid down in the treaty 
of Guadalupe-Hidalgo with Mexico, was settled in 
1853 by purchasing, through James Gadsden, a strip 
of territory to the south of the Gila River, in order 

1 Senate. Exec. Docs., 36 Cong., 1 Sess., No. 31; Curtis, Bu* 
chanan, II., 114. 

2 Nitobe, The U . S. and Japan, 37-69. 

8 Callahan, Am. Relations in the Pacific, 120-123. 


that a future Southern Pacific railroad might run 
wholly over United States soil. 1 

In like manner the long-standing quarrel between 
Canadian authorities and New England fishermen, 
over the privileges granted by the treaty of 181 8, 
was settled in this period. The Canadian govern- 
ment was eager to purchase commercial reciprocity, 
using the fisheries as a make-weight ; but no treaty 
could be obtained, although an emissary made a fruit- 
less visit to Washington in 1851. After this failure 
the Canadians resorted to the use of British men-of- 
war to seize suspected fishermen, which stirred up 
great indignation in New England, but led to no 
action until, in Marcy's regime, Lord Elgin visited 
Washington and succeeded in securing the ratifica- 
tion of a reciprocity treaty in 1854. This granted 
equal fishing rights (inshore and river fishing except- 
ed) in return for commercial concessions. 2 The kind 
of diplomacy used by Lord Elgin was described by 
Laurence Oliphant of his suite, as "chaffing Yan- 
kees and slapping them on the back. " "If you have 
got to deal with hogs," he queried, "what are you 
to do?" 3 

The really serious problems of these years, how- 
ever, were those connected with southern expansion. 
The first related to Cuba, the annexation of which 
was ardently desired in the southern states, partly 

1 Senate Exec. Docs., 32 Cong., 1 Sess., No. 97. 

2 Henderson, Am. Diplomatic Questions, 504 et seq. 
8 Oliphant, Oliphant, 109, 120. 


as an expression of the general spirit of expansion, 
but more from the desire for slave territory. " If 
we hold Cuba," wrote one enthusiast, "we will hold 
the destiny of the richest and most increased com- 
merce that has ever dazzled the cupidity of man. 
And with that commerce we can control the power 
of the world. . . . The world will fall back upon 
African labor, governed and owned in some shape 
or form by the white man, as it always has been. 
. . . We, too, are in the hands of a superintending 
Providence to work out the real regeneration of 
mankind." 1 

The other problem related to the control of the 
isthmus of Central America, which suddenly became 
important after 1848 as a link in the sea -passage 
to California. In the case of each of these regions 
the desires of the southern people were so keen that 
they led to repeated attempts by adventurers to 
gain military control in the hope of bringing about 
an eventual annexation. Whenever the govern- 
ment, impelled by popular interest, took any steps 
towards carrying out the expansionist dreams, it 
encountered the direct opposition of Great Britain 
in each field ; and the diplomatic dealings which re- 
sulted were not confined to Spain or the petty Cen- 
tral American republics, but bore the character of 
a duel with a determined and persistent adversary 
and rival. 

1 De Bow's Review, XVII., 281 (September, 1854); Callahan, 
Cuba and International Relations, 198-228. 


The first steps towards Cuban annexation in this 
period were taken under Polk, in 1848, when Saun- 
ders, the American representative at Madrid, was 
instructed to sound the Spanish government. The 
prompt reply he received from the minister of foreign 
affairs was typical of the Spanish attitude on the 
question from this time until the crisis half a century 
later. He was told that " it was more than any min- 
ister would dare to entertain such a proposition; 
. . . such was the feeling of the country that sooner 
than see the island transferred to any power they 
would prefer seeing it sunk in the ocean." 1 In the 
face of such a determined position no further action 
was taken by the United States, but the idea was 
spread in the south by Spanish refugees that Cuba 
itself was ready to revolt, resulting in a series of 
filibustering attempts, engineered by Narcisso Lopez, 
an adventurer from South America. Although the 
Spanish minister at Washington, the persistent Cal- 
deron de la Barca, was kept well informed of the 
progress of every plot and poured a stream of angry 
notes upon the state department, nothing could pre- 
vent the raiders from acting. Clayton and Webster 
were honestly desirous to preserve neutrality, but the 
sympathy of nine-tenths of the southern people was 
so strongly with Lopez that the laws could not be 
enforced. Taylor issued a proclamation against fili- 
bustering in 1849 and managed to prevent the de- 
parture of the first expedition, but the second one 

1 House Exec. Docs., 32 Cong., 1 Sess. ; No. 121, p. 58. 


escaped, only to fail miserably, Lopez taking refuge 
at Key West, while a number of his followers were 
caught and tried for piracy. 1 

Clayton used his utmost efforts to secure the re- 
lease of these men, going so far as to threaten a 
"sanguinary war" in case the prisoners were not 
sent home to meet the merited punishment of "the 
indignant frowns of their fellow-citizens," 2 but it 
was not until Webster became secretary that their 
release was accomplished through Barringer, the 
minister at Madrid. Meanwhile, Lopez was trium- 
phantly acquitted by a southern jury when tried 
on the charge of violating the neutrality laws, 
gathered a new force, undisturbed by Calderon's 
heated protests, and made a second descent on the 
island in August, 185 1. He found no support, was 
driven to the hills, captured, and promptly garroted; 
while fifty of his followers, including young men 
from prominent southern families, were shot after 
a summary court-martial. When the news of this 
severity reached New Orleans, the centre of filibus- 
tering sympathy, a mob wrecked the Spanish con- 
sulate, defaced a portrait of the queen, and looted 
Spanish shops. 3 

In this affair the United States was so clearly in 
the wrong that aggressive action was out of the 

1 Senate Exec. Docs., 31 Cong., 2 Sess., No. 41, p. 3. 

2 Clayton to Calderon, July 9, Clayton to Barringer, July 1, 
Senate Exec. Docs., 31 Cong., 2 Sess., No. 41. 

3 House Exec. Docs., 32 Cong., 1 Sess., No. 2, p. 26. 



question. Webster offered reparation for the insult, 
and recommended that Congress make indemnity 
for the damage, but although this straightforward 
action secured the release of the surviving prisoners, 
relations with Spain continued to be strained. 1 The 
Cuban administration adopted a suspicious and ar- 
bitrary attitude towards Americans, and the last 
months of Fillmore's term were filled with com- 
plaints from traders of intolerable exactions and 
extortions for which no redress could be obtained, 
smce the Spanish captain-general had no diplomatic 
functions and declined to deal with American consuls 
or agents. 2 

The unconciliatory attitude of the Spanish gov- 
ernment at this time was undoubtedly due to a sense 
of British support. In 185 1 the British and French 
ministers announced at Washington that their men- 
of-war had orders to prevent filibustering, which 
brought out from Crittenden, acting secretary dur- 
ing an illness of Webster, a strong protest. Later, 
in April, 1852, at the suggestion of the Spanish gov- 
ernment, England proposed a tripartite agreement, 
by which Great Britain, France, and the United 
States should mutually renounce any purpose of 
annexing Cuba; but Everett firmly declined to be 
drawn into any such arrangement, on the ground of 

1 House Exec. Docs., 32 Cong., 1 Sess., No. 19, pp. 2-7. 

2 Ibid., 33 Cong., 1 Sess., No. 86; Latane, Diplomacy of the 
U. S. in Regard to Cuba, 232-239; Callahan, Cuba and Interna- 
tional Relations, 221-255. 



the peculiar interests of the United States in the 
; island. 1 

When Pierce assumed office, the whole country 
undoubtedly looked for vigorous action in foreign 
affairs, especially the annexation of Cuba; and 
Marcy, his secretary, was expected to take the mat- 
ter promptly in hand. Marcy, however, although 
not averse to annexation, was conservative, cold- 
blooded, and lawyer -like, and unwilling to take 
decisive steps without a perfectly secure footing. 
This caution fell far short of the desires of the south- 
ern Democrats and, for the moment, of the northern 
party leaders; for in 1853 the exasperation in com- 
mercial centres over the unfriendly Spanish policy in 
Cuba was such that a war might not have been 
unpopular. The new minister at Madrid was Pierre 
Soule, of Louisiana, a hot-headed Frenchman, an 
avowed annexationist, and a sympathizer with 
filibusters, a man contrasting strongly with his 
Whig predecessor, the firm yet cautious Barringer. 
Marcy's instructions to Soule bade him be slow to 
raise the question of annexation, in view of the ex- 
isting irritation of Spanish feeling ; but directed him 
to press for reparation for outrages in Cuba and es- 
pecially to demand the conferring of sufficient diplo- 
matic power upon the Cuban captain-general to per- 
mit complaints to be lodged with him without the 

1 Senate Exec. Docs., 32 Cong., 1 Sess., No. 1, pp. 74, 76; 2 
Sess., No. 63. 


necessity of waiting weeks and months for replies 
from Madrid. 1 

Soule's career in Spain was a series of blunders. 
At the outset, finding no business of a pressing char- 
acter, he vented his temper in a duel with the French 
ambassador. 2 Soon news came from Cuba which 
seemed to the excitable minister the proper pretext 
for a diplomatic rupture. The cargo of the steamer 
Black Warrior, which for months had been making 
trips to Havana without molestation, was suddenly 
condemned for the violation of an obsolete harbor 
regulation, a crowning example of the irritating 
policy of the Cuban authorities. The hot-heads in 
the United States clamored for war, and Congress 
resounded with angry speeches; but Soule, in his 
rashness, threw away whatever tactical advantages 
this situation had given him. After presenting a 
claim for damages on April 8, and receiving no reply 
for three days, he sent a second note demanding 
reparation within forty-eight hours, under threat of 
asking for his passports. Such hasty action trans- 
ferred the grievance to the other side, now repre- 
sented by the former minister to Washington, 
Calderon de la Barca ; and since Soule was left with- 
out support from Marcy the whole affair evaporated 
in bluster. In spite of Soule's angry arguments that 
Spain needed to be taught a lesson, Marcy would 
make no ultimatum ; for events at home had begun 

1 Marcy to Soule, July 23, 1853, House Exec. Docs., 33 Cong., 
2 Sess.,No. 93, p. 3. 2 Rhodes, United States, II., 11-15. 


to appear so threatening that the secretary was re- 
solved to invite no foreign complication. 1 In 1855 
the United States accepted a tardy apology and 
reparation for the Black Warrior seizure, and the 
incident was closed. 

Meanwhile, Soule made a final false step, which led 
to the collapse of his diplomatic career. Marcy in- 
structed him to join with Mason, minister to France, 
and Buchanan, minister to England, in conferring 
upon a policy to be followed by the United States 
towards Cuba, and the three ministers met according- 
ly, at Ostend, in the summer of 1854. The result was 
the draught of a manifesto which was sent to Marcy 
in October, to the effect that Spain ought to sell Cuba 
to the United States ; that Cuba was necessary for 
the safety of slavery in the southern states of the 
Union; and that if Spain, "dead to the voice of her 
own interest and actuated by ... a false sense of 
honor, should refuse to sell Cuba," then, in case the 
internal peace of the Union was endangered, "by 
every law, human and divine, we shall be justified 
in wresting it from Spain if we possess the power." 2 
In transmitting this surprising document, Soule 
added that now was the time to declare war upon 
Spain, since England and France were involved in 
the Crimean struggle and would be unable to inter- 

Marcy, however, received the manifesto with ill- 

1 House Exec. Docs., 33 Cong., 2 Sess., No. 93, pp. 30-120. 

2 Ibid., 127-132. 



concealed surprise, and replied in a note which ironi- 
cally assumed that " It was not intended by yourself 
or your colleagues to offer to Spain the alternative 
of cession or seizure." 1 When the correspondence 
and the manifesto were published in March, 1855, 
the unsparing condemnation expressed in the north 
showed that the time had gone by when an aggres- 
sive Cuban policy could receive support or acquies- 
cence from a united public. Soule resigned in dis- 
gust and the Cuban episode came to an end. 2 

The Central American question brought the United 
States into conflict with an equally pertinacious and 
more formidable antagonist. Great Britain was first 
in the field with the colony of Belize on the coast of 
Honduras and a traditional but ill-defined protec- 
torate over the obscure tribe of Mosquito Indians on 
the eastern shore of Nicaragua. When the impor- 
tance of the isthmian transit became visible, espe- 
cially the Nicaragua route, a sudden scramble began 
for its control. Chatfield, the British representative, 
showed a tendency to stretch the elastic Mosquito 
protectorate over the San Juan River — the eastern 
part of the Nicaragua passage — and in 1849 caused 
the occupation of Tigre Island, on the coast of Hon- 
duras, to command the western end. Hise, the 
American minister sent by Polk, met this move by 

1 House Exec. Docs., 33 Cong., 2 Sess., No. 93, p. 135. 

2 Latane, Diplomacy of the U. S. in Regard to Cuba, 240-249; 
Callahan, Cuba and International Relations, 257-288; Webster, 
"Mr. Marcy, the Cuban Question," in Pol. Sci. Quart., VIII., 
1-32 (March, 1893). 


securing a treaty from Nicaragua which gave the 
United States exclusive privileges over the canal 
route; and when this failed of ratification by the 
Senate, Squier, his successor, made another treaty, 
securing somewhat less extensive privileges, and, in 
addition, induced Honduras to cede Tigre Island, 
which the British had occupied, to the United 
States. 1 

Each country protested vigorously against the 
actions of the other's agents, but after a year of 
negotiations, Clayton agreed with Sir Henry Bulwer, 
in 1850, upon a treaty which compromised the rival 
claims. Each country promised to aid in the con- 
struction of an interoceanic canal through Nicaragua, 
to guarantee its neutrality, and explicitly to re- 
nounce any "dominion over Nicaragua, Costa Rica, 
the Mosquito Coast or any part of Central America." 
The principle of neutrality was to be extended to any 
other canal that might be built, and other powers 
were invited to join in the neutralization of the 
region. 2 This arrangement was regarded at the time 
as a substantial triumph for the United States, and 
during the next two years Webster labored vainly 
to settle the dispute between Nicaragua and Costa 
Rica, concerning their boundary in the vicinity of 
the San Juan River, where an American "Accessory 

1 Senate Exec. Docs., 31 Cong., 2 Sess., No. 43; Travis, Clayton* 
Bulwer Treaty, 31-71; Henderson, Am. Diplomatic Questions, 
106-123; Keasbey, Nicaragua Canal, chaps, x., xi. 

2 MacDonald, Select Documents, 373. 



Transit Company" was now operating a line of 

As time went on, however, the conditions on the 
isthmus did not seem to square with the state of 
things assumed in the treaty. While Great Britain 
abandoned Tigre Island, she still retained the Mosqui- 
to protectorate as well as Belize ; and in the summer 
of 1852 took the step of annexing some islands off 
the Honduras coast and erecting them into the col- 
ony of " The Bay Islands." At the same time Grey- 
town, a trading-post in Nicaragua at the mouth of 
the San Juan River, was established as a "free city" 
through the active support of the British represent- 
ative in the so - called Mosquito protectorate. In 
185 1 this mushroom sovereignty endeavored to levy 
port dues upon the steamers of the Transit Company, 
and when one of these, the Prometheus, refused to 
pay, it was fired upon by a British man-of-war. 
These actions could not fail to create an impression 
in the United States that England was deliberately 
violating the Clayton - Bulwer treaty, and caused 
wide-spread indignation. 1 

Finally, in the last session of Congress in Fillmore's 
term, it was brought to light in a heated debate in 
the Senate, that before signing the treaty in 1850, 
Sir Henry Bulwer had left with Clayton a memo- 
randum stating that the British government did not 
construe its renunciation of "dominion" in Central 
America to apply to Belize "or any of its dependen- 

1 Senate Exec. Docs., 33 Cong., 1 Sess., No. 8. 


cies." This explained the recent action of England 
and made it clear that Clayton, in allowing this 
memorandum to stand as an unacknowledged part 
of the treaty, had deprived his work of much of 
its value. The whole subject was accordingly re- 
opened. 1 

When Marcy assumed office he took up the prob- 
lem in a resolute fashion, making a direct attack upon 
the British position by instructing Buchanan to in- 
sist upon a renunciation by Great Britain of the 
shadowy Mosquito protectorate. Marcy's language 
was that of an aggrieved party and was so vigorous 
that Lord Clarendon termed it "hostile." 2 He not 
only stigmatized the retention of the Bay Islands 
and the Mosquito claim as a violation of the treaty 
and a mere " convenience to sustain British preten- 
sions," but denied any legal basis for the Belize 
Colony. 3 To this Clarendon replied emphatically 
that the Clayton-Bulwer treaty was not meant to 
be renunciatory and would not be so construed by 
the British government. Meanwhile, to aggravate 
the situation, an explosion took place at the self- 
styled "free city" of Grey town. The Accessory 
Transit Company continued to be embroiled with 
the "City" government, its buildings being saved 

1 Cong. Globe, 32 Cong., 2 Sess., 237; Lawrence, Disputed 
Questions, 89-103. 

2 Clarendon to Crampton, July 22, 1853, Brit, and For. State 
Papers, XLII., 253. 

3 Marcy to Buchanan, July 2, 1853, Senate Exec. Docs., 34 
Cong., 1 Sess., No. 1, p. 42. 



from destruction only by the interposition of the 
United States vessel the Cyane; until in June, 1854, 
an affray occurred in which one of the officers of the 
company's steamers killed an individual, and a 
mob, in revenge, attacked the United States consul. 
Thereupon Lieutenant Hollins, of the Cyane, de- 
manded reparation, and, in default, bombarded and 
destroyed the town; while the commander of a 
British vessel present at the time protested that 
only inferior strength prevented him from interpos- 
ing. Each government seemed inclined to maintain 
its position stiffly, and the action of the United 
States showed a willingness to resort to force. 1 

At this juncture, when the United States had 
embarked in a serious controversy with Great Brit- 
ain, marked by every sign of ill-temper, and while 
Great Britain was embarrassed by the outbreak of 
the Crimean War, Marcy contented himself with fur- 
nishing arguments to Buchanan and hinting at the 
abrogation of the treaty, but took no definite action. 
The quarrel which had begun so threateningly dwin- 
dled to a mere diplomatic fencing between the pa- 
tient and courteous Buchanan and the British foreign 
secretary, in such spare moments as the latter could 
afford in the midst of his serious European compli- 
cations. 2 

Gravis, Clayton - Bulwer Treaty, 153 et seq.; Senate Exec. 
Docs., 33 Cong., 1 Sess., No. 85. 

2 Marcy to Buchanan, June 12, 1854, Senate Exec. Docs., 34 
Cong., 1 Sess., No. 1, p. 67. 


The influence which put a veto upon an aggres- 
sive policy towards Spain and restrained Marcy from 
pushing the Central American controversy with 
vigor was a sudden violent tempest of sectional 
feeling and an overwhelming defeat of the Pierce 
administration at the polls. The attention of the 
country was wholly engrossed with a renewal of the 
slavery controversy, and Marcy was far too pru- 
dent to commit the administration to any grave 
foreign policy in such a crisis. The time for south- 
ern expansion as a means for increasing slave terri- 
tory had gone by. 1 

1 This subject is continued in chap, xviii., below. 



THE divergent interests of the sections were such 
that the calm produced by the general acqui- 
escence in the compromise of 1850 could not have 
endured indefinitely; sooner or later the slumber- 
ing antagonism must have been aroused. Never- 
theless, the measure which disturbed the national 
quiet and led to a sudden sharp revival of the sec- 
tional struggle, seems to have been at that time an 
undeniable political blunder. At the opening of the 
session of Congress in December, 1853, there was no 
federal territory where the status of slavery was not 
fixed by some law bearing the character of an agree- 
ment between the sections ; and the federal govern- 
ment and most of the state governments were in the 
hands of a party committed to the carrying-out of 
the compromise measures. In his first annual mes- 
sage, Pierce congratulated the country upon its calm, 
and added: ' 1 That this repose is to suffer no shock 
during my official term if I have power to avert it, 
those who placed me here may be assured." 1 

1 Richardson, Messages and Papers, V., 222. 



Among minor matters requiring consideration at 
this time was that of a territorial organization for the 
region known as Nebraska, comprising that part of 
the old Louisiana purchase west of Iowa and Mis- 
souri. It was still mainly left to Indian tribes, and 
had few white inhabitants, but there was a growing 
desire in western Missouri for a chance to settle in 
the territory, and a need for protecting the transcon- 
tinental wagon route. Hence, Douglas, of Illinois, 
introduced a series of bills for that purpose, one of 
which passed the House in 1853, but was blocked in 
the Senate. Nothing in the bill nor in the language 
of any of its supporters indicated the idea that the 
prohibition of slavery in Nebraska by the Missouri 
Compromise was affected. 1 There was, therefore, 
nothing to connect the proposed measure with any 
danger to the political calm. 

January 4, 1854, Douglas reported to the Senate 
from the committee on territories a new Nebraska 
bill which added to the formal sections a proviso 
permitting the territory to enter the Union when it 
became a state, "with or without slavery." The 
accompanying report said, in substance, that since 
many southerners thought the Missouri Compromise 
unconstitutional, and since the principle of non- 
intervention had been established by the compromise 
of 1850, it was advisable to treat all territories as 
New Mexico and Utah had been dealt with. 2 The 

1 Cong. Globe, 32 Cong., 2 Sess., 11 13 (March 3, 1853). 

2 Senate Reports, 33 Cong., 1 Sess., No. 15. 

9 6 


bill apparently left the existing prohibition of slavery 
undisturbed and yet indirectly authorized the in- 
habitants to disregard it. 

Douglas appears to have introduced this singular 
and startling proposition entirely on his own mo- 
tion, 1 and its purpose seems to have been nothing 
more nor less than an effort on the part of a presi- 
dential candidate to secure favor in a quarter where 
he lacked popularity. Douglas was too thorough 
a Democrat in person and in feeling to be regarded 
with sympathy by the aristocratic south, and if he 
was to be successful in the Democratic national con- 
vention of 1856, he saw that he must somehow gain 
southern approbation. He undoubtedly thought 
that by applying the "principle of non-interven- 
tion," so successful in allaying discord since 1850, he 
could win the applause of the south and retain the 
support of all conservatives at the north who were 
committed to upholding as a finality the similar ar- 
rangement in the cases of Utah and New Mexico. 
That his bill would produce a revolution in politics 
and do more than any one thing to precipitate civil 
war never entered his head. His action was based 
on a total failure to comprehend the veiled sectional- 
ism of the time and a still deeper inability to grasp 
the moral bearing of the anti-slavery feeling of the 
north. At no time in all his relations with the sla- 
very controversy did Douglas show any other cri- 
terion than that of immediate political success ; and 
1 Cong. Globe, 33 Cong., 2 Sess., 216. 


hence all his energy and ability led him ultimately 
to disaster. 

Instantly the question rose as to the exact mean- 
ing of the bill, and Douglas was promptly obliged to 
forsake his vagueness, for on January 16 Dixon, of 
Kentucky, offered an amendment expressly repealing 
the Missouri Compromise ; and the next day Sumner 
responded by offering one expressly reaffirming that 
clause. It now became necessary for Douglas to 
commit himself, and with reluctance he decided to 
risk everything, to accept the principle of the Dixon 
amendment, and to take the consequences. 1 The 
first step was to secure the approval of the president, 
and in this Jefferson Davis, secretary of war, acted 
as intermediary. In an interview on January 22, 
Pierce gave his assent, 2 for he too was thinking of 
1856 and could not risk offending southern sup- 
porters. Pierce's conduct has been severely criti- 
cised in view of his pledge to allow no disturbance 
of the existing repose. A far-sighted leader would 
have foreseen the dangers involved in such a radical 
proposal as the repeal of the Missouri Compromise; 
but Pierce was not far-sighted nor was he in any 
sense a leader. He was simply a man of moderate 
abilities, 'good intentions, and personally attractive 
qualities, who was wholly dominated by his party 
and its acknowledged leaders. 

1 Dixon, Hist, of Missouri Compromise, 442-450. 

2 Davis, Confederate Government, I., 28; Webster, "The Re- 
sponsibility for Secession," in Pol. Set. Quart., VIII., 278. 


The bill was again reported by Douglas on the 
24th, with new provisions, by which the Missouri 
Compromise was openly repealed, on the ground 
that it was " superseded by the principles of the 
legislation of 1850," and the territory was divided 
into two parts, that lying west of Missouri to be 
called Kansas, the rest to remain as Nebraska. It 
was clearly intended by this last change to prepare 
Kansas for settlement by the Missourians; while 
Nebraska, with the larger limits, was left to the 
slower process of northern immigration. At the 
same time the Washington Union, reputed to be 
Pierce's organ, printed an editorial saying that the 
administration approved the Kansas-Nebraska bill 
and regarded it as "a test of Democratic ortho- 
doxy." 1 The proposition was now fairly before the 

By this time the public at the north realized that 
something startling was under way, and newspapers 
began to spread the alarm that Douglas and the 
administration were attempting to open the terri- 
tories to slavery and disturb the existing equilibrium. 
Whig and Democratic, as well as Free Soil, papers 
grew extremely bitter in their comments when the 
bill was reported in its second form. Then appeared, 
January 24, a solemn and impassioned protest, writ- 
ten by Chase and signed by the group of third-party 
men in Congress, entitled the "Appeal of the Inde- 

1 January 24, 1854: quoted by Rhodes, United States, I., 441; 
cf. Webster, in Pol. Sci. Quart., VIII., 227. 


pendent Democrats in Congress to the people of the 
United States." They called upon the people of the 
north to oppose the passage of the bill by every pos- 
sible means of protest; they arraigned it in strong 
language as " a gross violation of a sacred pledge ; as 
a criminal betrayal of precious rights ; as part and 
parcel of an atrocious plot " ; they called the repeal- 
ing clause, with its reference to the compromise of 
1850, "a manifest falsification of the truth of His- 
tory"; they accused Douglas of criminal ambition, 
and in conclusion they asked: "Will the people per- 
mit their dearest interests to be thus made the mere 
hazards of a presidential game ? " 1 By the time de- 
bate opened, the interest of the whole country was 
concentrated upon the measure, and sectional pas- 
sions were rising with alarming rapidity. 

Then followed one of the most desperate contests 
in the history of Congress. In the Senate the debate 
lasted from January 30, almost without interrup- 
tion, until March 3. It was seen from the start that, 
with the Democratic administration and most of the 
southern Whigs to aid him, Douglas was secure of 
passing his bill through the Senate ; but the debating 
strength of the minority was totally unexpected, and 
the country hung upon the speeches with unrelaxing 
tension. Douglas began with a savage personal at- 
tack upon Chase and the Independent Democrats, 
whom he accused of having " applied coarse epithets 
by name" to him in their address, and of stirring 

1 National Era, January 24, 1854; cf. Hart, Chase, 138-143. 



the alarm of the north by deception. "This tor- 
nado," he cried, "has been raised by Abolitionists 
and Abolitionists alone. They have made an impres- 
sion upon the public mind . . . by a falsification of 
the law and of the facts." 1 

On the other side the assailants of the bill replied 
with exasperating emphasis, especially Chase, who 
in this debate reached in many respects the highest 
point of his senatorial career. He spoke not merely 
for the small third-party group, but for the entire 
north, and in strength of argument, boldness, and 
directness of attack he took the leadership. He tore 
the sham features from the bill with merciless hand. 
"The truth is," he said, "the Compromise acts of 
1850 were not intended to introduce any principle of 
territorial organization to any other territory except 
that covered by them. . . . Senators, will you unite 
in a statement which you know to be contradicted 
by the history of the country? ... If you wish to 
break up the time-honored compact embodied in the 
Missouri Compromise, ... do it openly, do it boldly. 
Repeal the Missouri prohibition. Do not declare it 
'inoperative' because 'superseded by the principles 
of the legislation of 1850/ . . . You may pass it 
here," he continued, "it may become law. But its 
effect will be to satisfy all thinking men that no com- 
promises with slavery will endure, except so long as 
they serve the interests of slavery. . . . This discus- 
sion will hasten the inevitable reorganization of par- 
1 Cong. Globe, 33 Cong., 1 Sess., 279. 


ties upon the new issues. ... It will light up a fire 
in the country which may, perhaps, consume those 
who kindle it." 1 

Besides Chase, Sumner spoke for the Free Dem- 
ocrats, Seward for the anti-slavery Whigs, and Ev- 
erett for the Webster Whigs, all opposing the bill 
on the ground of its violation of national faith. 
Another recruit was Chase's colleague, Wade, who 
up to this time had made no strong impression on the 
Senate, but who now found a proper field for his 
rough and aggressive manner in assailing the south 
and the Democrats. Without Douglas's wonderful 
adroitness he had much of Douglas's strength in in- 
vective, and was from this time among the foremost 
northern combatants. 

On the other side long speeches were made by the 
leading southern senators; but the real defence of 
the bill rested with Douglas, who showed in this con- 
test an ability in parliamentary combat unequalled 
by any of his opponents. His arguments, whether 
good or bad, were presented in such a manner as to 
appear plausible and reasonable. He dwelt at length 
upon the futility of mere laws to exclude or establish 
slavery in any territory, asserting that the Northwest 
Ordinance, the Missouri Compromise, and the Oregon 
act had been mere superfluities, the real decision in 
every case having been made by the settlers in those 
regions. Hence he insisted upon the universal ap- 
plicability of the "principle of non-intervention/' 
1 Cong. Globe, 33 Cong., 1 Sess., App., 139, 140. 


claiming the authority of Clay for its support. Fur- 
ther, he repeatedly assailed the Missouri Compromise 
as in no sense a real compact, and by continually 
attacking minor defects in his opponents' reasoning 
made it appear that they and not he were on the 
defensive before the country. 

In the final session Douglas kept up a running 
debate single-handed against Seward, Sumner, Ever- 
ett, and Chase, and showed himself more than their 
equal, closing by a series of bitterly personal attacks 
upon Chase and Sumner. He accused them of enter- 
ing the Senate "by corrupt bargain, or a dishonor- 
able coalition in which their character, principles and 
honor were set up at public auction or private sale. 
. . . Why," he concluded, "can we not adopt the 
principle of this bill as a rule of action in all terri- 
torial organizations ? Why can we not deprive these 
agitators of their vocation? ... I believe that the 
peace, the harmony and the perpetuity of the union 
require us to go back to the doctrines of the Revolu- 
tion, to the principles of the Constitution, to the 
principles of the Compromise of 1850, and leave the 
people, under the Constitution, to do as they may 
see proper in respect to their own internal affairs." 1 

However much Douglas might attempt to restate 
his proposition in a form more attractive to the 
north, the issue was the naked one of opening to 
the introduction of slaves a territory from which 
they had hitherto been excluded. Chase and Sum- 
1 Cong. Globe, 33 Cong., 1 Sess., App., 337, 338. 


ner continually offered amendments designed to em- 
phasize this fact, but their propositions were voted 
down without ceremony by the administration ma- 
jority. The only amendments of importance were 
two providing that the old laws of Louisiana recog- 
nizing slavery should not be revived; and limiting 
the right to acquire and hold land to American citi- 
zens. Douglas further accepted an amendment elim- 
inating the equivocal phrase " superseded by" the 
compromise of 1850, and substituting the words 
" inconsistent with." A proviso was also added, 
declaring it to be "the true intent and meaning of 
this act not to legislate slavery into any territory or 
state, nor to exclude it therefrom; but to leave the 
people thereof perfectly free to form and regulate 
their own domestic institutions in their own way." 
Benton sneered at this as "a little stump speech 
injected in the belly of the bill." 1 In this form the 
measure was finally passed, March 3, 1854, by a vote 
of 37 to 14. The majority was composed of 28 Dem- 
ocrats, northern and southern, and 9 southern Whigs. 
The minority comprised 2 Free-Soilers, 6 northern 
Whigs, 1 southern Whig — Bell, of Tennessee — 4 
northern Democrats, and 1 southern Democrat — 
Houston, of Texas. 

The struggle was now transferred to the House, 
but when, on motion of Richardson, of Illinois, Doug- 
las's lieutenant, the bill was taken up on March 21, 
it was placed on the calendar of the committee of the 
1 Cong. Globe, 33 Cong., 1 Sess., App., 559. 

VOL. XVIII. — 8 


whole by a vote of no to 95. With fifty others 
ahead of it, the measure seemed placed beyond the 
reach of legislation ; but it was generally recognized 
that it was not dead, The willingness of the " Hard ' ' 
faction of New York Democrats to harass the presi- 
dent caused this apparent defeat, and not a genuine 
opposition to the bill. Still for weeks it was in 
abeyance and the country remained in suspense. 

Meanwhile the members of Congress and the ad- 
ministration were treated to an explosion of fury in 
the north which surpassed anything in the memory 
of living men. At a breath the contented calm of 
1853 vanished in a storm of anger towards Douglas, 
Pierce, and the south. From outraged conservatives 
who saw their cherished compromise disturbed, to 
radical anti-slavery men who fiercely welcomed the 
bill as an unmasking of the perfidy of the " slave 
power," arose a tempest of protest. Editorials and 
public letters were followed by meetings, without 
distinction of party, to denounce the bill, at first 
singly in the large cities, then by dozens, scores, hun- 
dreds in nearly every county and town of the free 
states. Five northern legislatures passed resolutions 
of protest. Ministers of all denominations preached 
sermons against "the Nebraska iniquity," and from 
them and from thousands of others petitions and 
remonstrances of every sort began to pour in upon 
Congress. 1 

On the other side the bill received scant applause. 
1 Rhodes, United States, I., 463-488 


Those in the northern states who did not object to it 
were silent in the tumult of denunciation, and only 
a few administration newspapers attempted any de- 
fence of the measure. Three Democratic legislat- 
ures refused to take any action in the matter, and 
the only one to pass approving resolutions was that 
of Illinois, Douglas's own constituency. In the 
south the general feeling was at first indifference, 
and the repeal of the Missouri Compromise under 
Douglas's leadership was regarded as a northern 
affair; but when the rising anti-slavery excitement 
became evident, southern newspapers rallied to up- 
hold Pierce. Still, vigorous popular support to 
counterbalance the northern agitation was lacking. 

In the face of this storm the administration 
showed a fighting spirit. However much Pierce may 
have regretted the demon he had conjured up, Doug- 
las and Davis were not the men to yield, and it soon 
appeared that every sort of official pressure was to 
be used to put the bill through the House. The 
cabinet, excepting Marcy and McClelland, who held 
aloof, worked heartily to whip waverers into line by 
the use of patronage; and the Union, the administra- 
tion mouth-piece, let it be clearly understood that no 
Democrat who forsook his party at this crisis could 
hope for further favors. 1 

On May 8, accordingly, with a majority stiffened 
up by these means, Richardson, of Illinois, strongly 
aided by Stephens, of Georgia, forced the fighting. 

1 March 7, March 22, 1854. 


The original Kansas-Nebraska bill was too deeply 
buried for resurrection, but by laying aside eighteen 
other bills in succession, another Nebraska bill, in- 
troduced into the House earlier in the session, was 
finally reached, and to this Richardson moved the 
Senate bill as a substitute. This manoeuvre was 
successful by a vote of about 109 to 88, but the oppo- 
sition, keyed up to unwonted obstinacy by the popu- 
lar excitement, were not discouraged from a desperate 
resistance. On May 11 Richardson moved to close 
debate, whereat the minority, led by Campbell, of 
Ohio, Mace, of Indiana, and Washburne, of Illinois, 
began a contest of determined filibustering. For 
over two days, in continuous session, the minority 
consumed time by incessant roll-calls, motions to ad- 
journ, requests to be excused from voting, and every 
other device within the rules of the House, while feel- 
ing ran continually higher, language grew harsher, 
and popular excitement grew more intense. The 
Senate was unable to keep a quorum, for its mem- 
bers were watching from the galleries while Douglas 
steered affairs on the floor of the House. Finally, 
late in the second night, when all were angry and 
many were inflamed with liquor, a personal alterca- 
tion between Campbell and Stephens and Seward, of 
Georgia, nearly brought on a free fight. 1 Only the 
utmost exertions of the speaker, Boyd, of Kentucky, 
succeeded in securing an adjournment. 

1 Cong. Globe, 33 Cong., 1 Sess., 1183; Pike, First Blows of the 
Civil War, 224. 


Then followed more days of bitter altercation, 
but, on a second trial, Richardson obtained a vote 
to close debate on May 20. The opposition could 
not have had any real hope of defeating the bill by 
obstruction, for there was no fixed end to the session 
nor was there any sign of weakening among the 
majority; yet, led by the indefatigable Campbell, 
they still fought on with dilatory motions and 
amendments until, by a clever trick, Stephens man- 
aged to force a vote on the night of May 22. The 
bill passed, 113 to 100. The majority was composed 
of 101 Democrats, northern and southern, and 12 
southern Whigs; the minority comprised no less 
than 42 northern Democrats and 2 southern ones 
who defied the administration, together with 45 
northern and 7 southern Whigs and 4 Free Demo- 
crats. Since the bill as passed left out the provision 
restricting land-holding to citizens, it went back to 
the Senate, which concurred, after a brief debate, 
on May 25, by 35 to 12. May 30 Pierce signed it, 
and the Kansas-Nebraska bill became law. 

No act more fateful in character ever passed the 
Congress of the United States, for it set in motion 
the train of political changes which led straight to 
the Civil War. It was the direct cause of a radical 
alteration of northern political feeling, of the total 
failure of the compromising or Union policy of 1850, 
and of the destruction of both the national parties. 
The suddenness of its introduction, the recklessness 
of its disturbance of the territorial situation, were 


such as to make an instant powerful impression ; and 
the members of Congress who passed it realized, 
when the session finally ended in August, that they 
had begun a political revolution whose end no man 
could foresee. 



UPON parties, the sudden anger which swept the 
north in 1854 produced revolutionary effects. 
At the opening of the year the Democratic party 
controlled the federal government and most of the 
state governments north and south, and was loyally 
supported in each section: The opposing Whig 
party, though discouraged by defeat and conscious 
of sharp differences between its southern and north- 
ern wings, was still formidable in numbers and not 
without hope of recovering, as the Democrats had 
recovered after 1840. That the Free Democratic 
party should ever supplant it as the rival of the 
Democrats was beyond the bounds of probability, 
for the third party was weakened by its radicalism 
and discredited by its habit of coalitions in nearly 
every state for the sake of gaining office. 

All calculations based on previous experience were 
upset, however, by the craze of anger and excite- 
ment over the repeal of the Missouri Compromise. 
The Whig party, paralyzed by differences between 
its northern and southern wings, could reap no ad- 


vantage from the blunder of the Pierce adminis- 
tration, for most of its northern members, turning 
in despair from the old organization as something 
stale and inadequate, welcomed the opportunity to 
unite with anti-slavery Democrats and Free-Soilers 
in order to administer a stunning rebuke to the 
party in power. The more radical anti-slavery men 
favored a sectional northern party formed to com- 
bat the south and the extension of slavery. Others 
desired not so much a new anti-southern as a new 
anti - Democratic organization. It was an oppor- 
tunity where a great leader, a man of the Clay or 
Webster stamp, was needed to assume control; or 
in default of such a personality, a group of men able 
to direct public action. No such leaders appeared, 
however, and the new forces worked themselves 
out at random in the several states, with the result 
that the political tornado which now blew the Whig 
party to fragments left chaos in its place. 

The radicals acted first : even before the passage 
of the bill an outcry went up for a new party; in 
April the first steps were taken, and by June the 
newspapers throughout the north were filled with 
appeals for a union of all honest men to rebuke the 
broken faith and violated pledges of the south. The 
members of Congress who had opposed the bill joined 
in issuing an address calling for united action in the 
next congressional election, and a number of them 
fell in heartily with the new party idea. 1 There was 
1 Wilson, Slave Power, II., 410. 



nothing, however, resembling any central control, 
and the leaders in the state elections were left un- 
trammelled and unaided. 

The region where the desire for a new anti-sla very- 
organization proved strongest was the "Old North- 
west." There Whiggery was less popular, for the 
party had been in a minority for years and the name 
had little of the social prestige which attached to it 
in the east and south. Consequently the opponents 
of the Kansas-Nebraska bill were able in these states 
to form a coalition in the summer of 1 854. In Michi- 
gan a state mass convention at Jackson nominated, 
on July 6, a mixed ticket of Whigs, Democrats, and 
Free-Soilers, and adopted a new name, that of Re- 
publicans. Their resolutions, the first Republican 
party platform, placed the new body squarely on 
anti-slavery grounds by declaring slavery a "moral, 
social and political evil," denouncing the repeal of 
the Missouri Compromise as "an open and undis- 
guised breach of faith," demanding the repeal of the 
Kansas-Nebraska act and the fugitive-slave law, and 
pledging the party to act under the name Republican 
" against the schemes of an aristocracy the most re- 
volting and the most repressive the earth has ever 
witnessed." 1 In Wisconsin, Ohio, and Indiana sim- 
ilar " people's " conventions met July 13, the anniver- 
sary of the Northwest Ordinance, brought about a 
union of anti-slavery elements, and organized for the 
fall campaign. Their enthusiasm, the vigor of their 

1 Curtis, Republican Party, I., 188-190. 


resolutions, and the promptness with which the Whig 
and Free Soil parties vanished in these states re- 
vealed the deep feeling aroused by the repeal of the 
Missouri Compromise. In the two other western 
states the same result was attained by Whig and 
Free Soil fusion. In Iowa, the Free Democratic 
party withdrew its own ticket and indorsed Grimes, 
the Whig candidate for governor, who ran on an 
anti-Nebraska platform. 1 In Illinois, an attempt 
to form an anti-Nebraska party proved abortive, 
since the movement fell into the hands of radical 
Free-Soilers with whom Illinois Whigs had little in 
common, yet the elements of opposition finally man- 
aged to unite on a state ticket. 2 

In congressional nominations the same process 
was carried through ; in nearly every district in the 
north the opponents of the administration uniting 
upon a distinctively anti-Nebraska candidate. In 
this way there appeared the beginnings of a purely 
sectional northern party, whose controlling senti- 
ment was indignation towards the south and a de- 
termination to oppose the extension of slavery by 
restoring the Missouri Compromise, or by some new 
means of effectual restriction. 

This movement, however, although the logical out- 
come of the crisis, failed in the eastern states owing 
to two obstacles, one foreseen and one utterly unex- 

1 Salter, Grimes, 33. 

2 Smith, Liberty and Free Soil Parties, 295; Harris, Negro 
Servitude in Illinois, 189. 

1 8 54] PARTY CHAOS 113 

pected. As was apprehended from the start, the 
conservative elements of the Whig party in the 
states east of Ohio refused to abandon their ranks. 
The Whig state convention of Massachusetts, while 
declaring itself "unalterably opposed to the exten- 
sion of slavery over one foot of territory now free," 
resolved "that the Whig party of Massachusetts, 
ever true to liberty, the Constitution, and the Union, 
needs not to abandon its organization or change its 
principles." 1 With many anti- slavery Whigs the 
position of Senator Seward was decisive. He was 
without doubt the leader of anti-slavery sentiment 
in the party in the greatest state in the Union, and 
his political weight was such that, had he chosen, 
he could have decided the immediate formation of 
a strong northern organization. But Seward and 
Weed, his mentor, were thorough-going, practical 
politicians, and hesitated to leave the safe shelter of 
the regular Whig organization for the doubtful ad- 
vantages of a tumultuous popular movement. In 
the Nebraska debate, Seward had been careful to 
speak always as the Whig, and now he concerned 
himself mainly with securing his re-election as sena- 
tor. 2 In two eastern states, New York and Vermont, 
the anti-Nebraska men adopted the Whig ticket; 
elsewhere they let it alone. The only eastern state 
where the Republican party as such was successfully 

1 Boston Advertiser, August 17, 1854. 

2 Bancroft, Seward, I., 367; Scisco, Political Nativism, 114 
et seq. 


formed was Maine, where a coalition of Free-Soilers 
and Temperance Democrats adopted the name. 1 In 
Massachusetts a convention was called to form the 
party but it proved almost a fiasco. 

These hesitating movements of undecided Whigs 
were rendered unimportant by a totally unexpected 
political phenomenon which suddenly burst upon the 
scene. In the spring of 1854 it began to be rumored 
that a new secret political society was spreading 
everywhere, and by summer it was evident that this 
body, whose members affected ignorance of its name, 
principles, or officers, was going to play a strong part 
in the coming elections. 2 The " Order of the Star- 
Spangled Banner" had been in existence since 1850 
as one of several societies opposed to the influence 
of foreigners and Catholics in politics. The presence 
of immigrants of alien speech and clannish habits, 
visibly controlled by their priests, was resented by 
American-born working-men as early as 1843, when 
Native American parties were formed in municipal 
elections in some of the large cities. This movement 
died down, but after 1850 the rapid influx of Irish 
and Germans, who stayed in the cities, and seemed 
to be debasing local politics besides competing with 
native working-men, led to a revival of alarm. 3 

At the same time a number of incidents in the 

1 Willey, Anti-Slavery Cause, 436-449. 

2 Scisco, Political Nativism, chap. ii. 

3 Haynes, "Causes of Know-Nothing Success," in Am. Hist. 
Rev., HI., 67. 


United States, joined to the known reactionary 
policy of Pope Pius IX., rendered the Roman church 
offensive to radicals. Archbishop Hughes, an ag- 
gressive prelate, attacked the New York public 
school system, objecting especially to the use of the 
Bible. Then, in 1853, when Bedini, a papal nuncio, 
came to America to settle a question of the owner- 
ship of church property at issue between the bishop 
of Buffalo and the trustees of the church, his decision 
in favor of the bishop was regarded as unfriendly and 
his mission was resented as an attempt at dictation. 1 
In 1853 and 1854 agitators began to appear who de- 
nounced Jesuits, the pope, the Catholic clergy, and 
Catholicism as dangerous to the state. Prominent 
among these was Alessandro Gavazzi, an ex-priest 
who had been active in the revolution of 1848 and 
now made tours of England and the United States, 
stirring great public interest by his savage attacks 
upon the papacy and the Catholic church. Soon 
riots began between the Catholic Irish and the 
"Know-Nothings," as the members of the secret 
orders were commonly called, and the year 1854 was 
marked by tumults of alarming proportions in New 
York and other large cities, where an agitator styling 
himself "the angel Gabriel" followed in Gavazzi's 
track. 2 

Of course this movement had no connection with 
the Kansas-Nebraska excitement; yet it was un- 

1 Schmeckebier, Know-Nothing Party in Maryland, 46-60. 

2 Scisco, Political Nativism, 84-105. 


deniably hostile to the party which contained within 
its ranks the Germans and Irish. Accordingly, when 
the wrath over the repeal of the Missouri Compromise 
spread like wildfire over the north, thousands of men 
who burned to rebuke the Pierce administration, but 
saw no hope in the conservative Whig organiza- 
tion, found this new, aggressively American order 
ready to receive them. Secrecy and the charm of 
novelty had for the moment a powerful effect ; and 
the "Order of the Star-Spangled Banner" suddenly 
grew to double, triple, and finally a hundredfold. 
Other similar orders flourished, and by the end of 
the summer of 1854 the anti-Nebraska excitement 
was paralleled by a new and unexpected anti-foreign 

The order was well suited for sudden expansion, 
for its guidance lay in the hands of a few men, the 
initiates of the highest of the three ' 'degrees" con- 
ferred, who alone knew the order's name and were 
eligible for its dignities. The local councils were 
united by a grand council for each state, and, after 
1854, by a national council, whose decisions were 
binding upon the whole body. Since the men who 
directed this new institution were, as a rule, little 
known in public life, the Whig and Democratic lead- 
ers were at first contemptuous and indifferent. Later, 
as the craze spread, the old-line politicians became 
alarmed but could exert no influence. Some, seeing 
a chance for personal advantage, joined the order, 
but more waited to see what the outcome would be. 



One thing became steadily clearer, that thousands 
of anti-slavery men were rushing into this secret 
society as the best way to strike at the administra- 
tion, regardless of the utter absence of relation be- 
tween the anti-Catholic issue and the Kansas-Ne- 
braska act. By the autumn, in spite of the profound 
mystery attached to the movements of the Know- 
Nothings, it was known that they had nominated 
tickets in Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsyl- 
vania, and all were curious to see how the experiment 
would turn out. 

Against this storm of angry but confused attack, 
the Democratic party, too firmly committed to avoid 
the issue, made a sullen though stubborn fight. In 
the south neither the anti-Nebraska nor the " Know- 
Nothing" movements had any effect this year; but 
in the north the party found itself at a great disad- 
vantage with no effective reply to its opponents. 
Few of the Democratic newspapers defended the 
Kansas-Nebraska act in more than a perfunctory 
way, yet the party stood unflinchingly by Douglas's 
"principle of non-intervention" with slavery in the 
territories, and raised the cry of intolerance against 
the new Native Americans. The campaign went on 
with great fury. Congressional and state candi- 
dates thundered on the stump against the adminis- 
tration, ringing the changes on the " Nebraska swin- 
dle," "perfidy," "enormity," and "outrage." Doug- 
las was the target for unmeasured abuse, hailed as 
Benedict Arnold and Judas Iscariot, insulted in pub- 


lie speeches and private letters, and burned in effigy 
from Maine to Illinois. 1 When he appeared before 
the people of Chicago to defend his work, he was 
howled down and threatened with stones and pistols 
until, having faced his opponents with unbending 
courage for hours, he yielded to his friends and aban- 
doned the effort. 2 The north had known no such 
campaign since the days of "Tippecanoe and Tyler 

When the elections came off, the results of the 
year of excitement became visible. In the north- 
west, where the opposition was united in an anti- 
Nebraska or Republican fusion, it carried every state 
except Illinois ; but in the eastern states the confu- 
sion of parties almost defied description. Voters 
were confronted with three or even four tickets: 
Republican, anti-Nebraska, Peoples', Fusion, Know- 
Nothing, Free Soil, Whig, Democratic, "Hard" and 
"Soft" Democrat, anti-Maine Law or "Rum" Dem- 
ocrat, and Temperance candidates. The Republican 
or Whig-Free- Soil-Temperance fusion carried Maine, 
Vermont, and, by a narrow margin, New York; but 
these successes were cast into the shadow by the 
astoundingly sudden rise of the Know-Not hings. 
This hitherto unknown party, with no public cam- 
paign at all, cast over one-quarter of the total vote 
in New York, more than two-fifths in Pennsylvania, 
and nearly two -thirds in Massachusetts, electing 

1 Cutts, Constitutional and Party Questions, 96, 98-101. 
3 Sheahan, Douglas, 271. 



every state officer and nearly every member of the 
legislature. In other states great numbers of the 
candidates elected as Republicans or anti-Nebraska 
men were also Know-Not hings, and the effect of the 
rebuke to the Pierce administration was almost lost 
sight of in the general amazement over the rise of 
the new order. Douglas did not hesitate to claim 
that the whole anti-Nebraska campaign had mis- 
carried. 1 

There could be no doubt, however, that the Demo- 
crats suffered a severe defeat. Nine states had been 
taken from their control, and among the congressmen 
elected up to January, 1855, there was an actual loss 
to the administration of sixty-two seats. Moreover, 
the legislatures of a number of northern states chose 
senators in the winter of 1855, all of whom, wheth- 
er Know -Nothing or not, were undoubtedly anti- 
slavery in principles. Prominent among those re- 
elected were Seward from New York and Hale 
from New Hampshire; among new senators, Colla- 
mer, a Seward Whig from Vermont, and Lyman 
Trumbull, an anti-slavery Democrat from Illinois. 
The verdict here was unmistakable 

At the end of 1854 the future of politics seemed 
all guesswork, for the tempest over the repeal of the 
Missouri Compromise was dying down and the Know- 
Nothings occupied for the moment the place of chief 
public interest. The last session of the thirty-third 
Congress was tame and uninteresting, with some dis- 

1 Congressional Globe, 33 Cong., 2 Sess., App. 216. 




cussion of the anti-foreign craze and slight reference 
to the slavery question. There seemed to be noth- 
ing pressing for an Anti-Nebraska party to do but to 
await the actual working of affairs in the territory; 
and, meanwhile, it looked as though the result of the 
whole episode was to be the creation of a national 
party on the anti-Catholic issue. Nothing in Ameri- 
can political history is more remarkable than the 
way in which the voters of the northern states re- 
sponded to the excitement of 1854. Except in the 
northwest, their action was so far from being what 
any one would have predicted that it seemed scarcely 
credible. The diversion of the fierce anti-southern 
anger of the eastern states into the construction of a 
party whose professed principles were absolutely un- 
related to the measures which caused the upheaval 
seemed utterly inexplicable on rational grounds. 
The outcome remained to be seen. 



THE immediate result of the Kansas - Nebraska 
act was to revolutionize parties in the north; 
but its ultimate outcome was to lead the country to 
the verge of civil war by creating an intense rivalry 
in the territory which it opened to settlement. When 
the bill passed, the general opinion was that while 
Nebraska would develop into a free community, 
Kansas was practically assured as a slave state ; for 
its geographical position marked it out as the field 
for immigration from Missouri, the lower Mississippi 
Valley, and Kentucky and Tennessee, rather than 
from the states to the north of the Ohio River. 
Although the southern leaders did not initiate the 
repeal of the Missouri Compromise, they gladly wel- 
comed the apparently undoubted opportunity to 
gain an additional slave state to counterbalance 
California in the Senate. The first settlers in Kan- 
sas came from western Missouri, and before the end 
of 1854 many of them took up claims along the Mis- 
souri and Kansas rivers, founding the little towns of 
Kickapoo, Leavenworth, and Atchison, and bringing 



a few slaves with them. " Popular sovereignty," as 
established by Douglas, seemed to mean exactly 
what the southern leaders desired. 

But the indignation among northern men over the 
opening of Kansas and Nebraska to slave-holders 
now led to an entirely unforeseen attempt to turn 
the principle of 1 'popular sovereignty " against the 
south itself, by securing a majority of anti-slavery 
settlers in Kansas, the very region conceded to the 
slave-holders. Even before the passage of the bill, 
steps were taken which led to the formation of a 
New England Emigrant Aid Society, organized by 
Eli Thayer, of Worcester, and largely supported by 
Amos Lawrence and others of the wealthiest and 
most prominent men of Massachusetts. 1 The pur- 
pose of this corporation was to assist the emigra- 
tion of genuine settlers — not necessarily abolitionists 
or even anti-Nebraska men — who were unwilling to 
see Kansas made into a slave state; the society 
did not enlist men as recruits, but was ready to 
assist applicants by loaning capital for mills and 
hotels and by furnishing supplies and transporta- 
tion. In the summer of 1854 the first band of 
northern settlers reached Kansas, and others soon 
followed. With them, although not under the au- 
spices of the society, came other immigrants from 
New York and the states of the "Old Northwest," 
looking for farms in the fertile valleys of the Kansas 
and its tributaries. Soon a new community, hold- 

1 Thayer, Kansas Crusade, chap. ii. 



ing aloof from the Missourian settlements, was plant- 
ed near the town of Lawrence, named in honor of the 
principal patron of the Emigrant Aid Society, and 
the country became aware that the settlement of 
the territory was taking on an unusual and ominous 
form. 1 

This "invasion" of Kansas by northern immi- 
grants brought sharply to the front one of the many 
hazy points in Douglas's "popular sovereignty." 
When, under the law, was the decision to be made 
regarding the existence of slavery ? Must it be post- 
poned till a state constitution was framed, or could 
it be made at any earlier time? The full southern 
theory, announced by Calhoun as early as 1847, and 
held by most southerners in 1854, was that there 
could be no interference with slavery by either Con- 
gress or the territorial legislature, no community ex- 
cept a state being competent to make a decision. 
Douglas would not commit himself on this point, but 
a very general impression prevailed in the north that 
the principle of popular or "squatter sovereignty" 
would permit the inhabitants of a territory to decide 
the point for themselves as soon as they chose. All 
saw, northern and southern men alike, that in de- 
fault of any positive protection of slavery by law, 
actual control of the territorial government by anti- 
slavery men would effectually prevent Kansas from 
ever becoming a slave state. 

x Cf. contemporary accounts of the difficulties in Kansas, in 
Hart, Am. Hist, told by Contemporaries, IV., §§ 36-40. 


This danger was perceived as soon as the organized 
eastern emigration began, and a thrill of indignation 
ran through Missouri and the entire south. 1 The 
actual purpose of the Emigrant Aid Society was 
wholly misunderstood, and the extent of its opera- 
tions exaggerated beyond all measure. It was be- 
lieved to be a corporation with unbounded resources, 
formed for the purpose of holding Kansas by force, 
sending out hordes of mercenaries, mostly abolition- 
ists, enemies of God and man, provisioned, and 
armed to the teeth to seize Kansas from legitimate 
southern emigrants. They are "a band of Hessian 
mercenaries," said a committee of Missourians, in an 
address to the people of the United States. "To 
call these people emigrants is a sheer perversion of 
language. They were not sent to cultivate the soil. 
. . . They have none of the marks of the old pio- 
neers. If not clothed and fed by the same power 
which has effected their transportation they would 
starve. They are hirelings — an army of hirelings. 
. . . They are military colonies of reckless and des- 
perate fanatics." 2 

The sense of unfairness and unjust aggression 
which the operations of the Emigrant Aid Society, 
as seen through these distorted rumors, excited in 
the south, was as keen in its way as the northern 
indignation had been over the repeal of the slavery 
restriction. The Missourians and southerners in 

1 Carr, Missouri, 241-256. 

2 Richmond Enquirer, October 5, 1855. 


general felt that the attempt to settle Kansas with 
northern emigrants was a direct effort to take from 
them what was rightfully theirs, and they were at 
once driven into a counter - effort to defeat this 
aggression by controlling the territorial government 
from the start in the interests of slavery. 1 The con- 
test thus begun not only convulsed Kansas, but 
speedily shook the country from end to end. 

The first open conflict between the opposing 
forces came in the autumn of 1854. The territorial 
governor, appointed by Pierce to carry the Kansas - 
Nebraska act into effect, was Andrew H. Reeder, a 
Pennsylvania Democrat, who announced his entire 
willingness to see Kansas become a slave state, a 
man of an excitable temperament, wholly unprepared 
and to a large degree unfitted for the task which he 
found thrust upon him. No sooner had he arrived 
and named November 29 for the election of a terri- 
torial delegate than the storm broke. On that day 
over sixteen hundred armed men from the western 
counties of Missouri, who had been organized in 
" Blue Lodges" for the purpose of making Kansas a 
slave state, marched into the territory under the 
leadership of United States Senator Atchison, and 
cast votes for Whitfield, a former Indian agent and 
a southerner, as territorial delegate. Owing possi- 
bly to the general confusion in the region, as well as 
to his desire to avoid trouble, Reeder raised no ob- 
jection to this illegality ; nor did the House hesitate 
1 Hodgson, Cradle of the Confederacy, 344. 


to admit Whitfield to a seat in December, 1854, and 
the Missourian invasion, although known in the east, 
aroused little comment in the whirl of the Republican 
and Know-Nothing campaign. 

During the winter of 185 4- 1855, the Missourians 
appealed to the south to prevent the swamping of 
the slave-holders in Kansas by a flood of New Eng- 
land abolitionists. More money, more settlers and 
arms must be supplied if Kansas was to be kept as 
a slave state. "Two thousand slaves actually in 
Kansas," urged B. P. Stringfellow, a Missouri leader, 
" will make a slave state out of it. Once fairly there 
nobody will disturb them." 1 By the spring of 1855 
the excitement in Missouri had become intense, and 
when Reeder ordered the election of a territorial leg- 
islature for March 30, it was felt that the decisive 
moment was at hand. Although a census of the 
territory, taken in February, 1855, showed that out 
of a total of 8601 inhabitants more than half came 
from the south, and less than seven hundred came 
from New England, the Missourians felt it would not 
do to leave anything to chance. On the election day, 
at least five thousand armed and organized men, led 
by Atchison, Stringfellow, and others, invaded the ter- 
ritory, took possession of the polls in nearly every 
district, overawed or drove away the election judges, 
and cast 6307 ballots. 2 The northern immigrants, 

1 Spring, Kansas, 27. 

2 House Reports, 34 Cong., 1 Sess., No. 200, pp. 9-35; Robin* 
son, Kansas, 27. 


most of them utterly unused to violence, and all un- 
prepared for such a performance, were too astound- 
ed and alarmed to make any effective protest ; and 
when Reeder was called upon to declare the returns 
he found himself surrounded by Missourians, while 
he had scarcely any independent supporters. 

Had Reeder possessed the courage to declare the 
entire election fraudulent, the history of the territory 
and of the country might have been different ; but 
he did no more than to throw out returns from seven 
contested districts, and gave certificates of election 
to the remaining members, who, when they met as a 
legislature, promptly unseated the seven Free-Soil- 
ers. Kansas was thus organized with a legislature 
composed wholly of pro -slavery men, and the south 
scored the first success in the contest. The victory 
was won, however, by fraud and violence, and the 
whole theory of peaceful " popular sovereignty" 
vanished into thin air. 

Very significant were the different ways in which 
the two sections regarded this election. Upon the 
people of the north it produced an impression of 
horror and disgust. "The impudence of this at- 
tempt," said Greeley, "is paralleled only by its 
atrocity. ... If a man can be found in the Free 
State to counsel the surrender of Kansas to the Slave 
power, he is a coward and slave in soul." 1 In the 
south, on the contrary, it was universally regarded 
as an act of justifiable self-defence against the un- 

1 N. Y. Tribune, April 12, 1855. 



fair encroachments of the north; one invasion had 
simply been answered by another one in behalf of 
the right. In no clearer way could the differing 
standards of the north and the south be contrasted. 

To the unfortunate Reeder now fell the duty of 
co-operating as governor with the legislature chosen 
by the 4 'Border Ruffians," as the Missourians began 
to be called. First he showed by his conduct what 
a revolution had been worked by his six months' 
experience in his views regarding slavery and slave- 
holders, for in returning to Washington to consult 
the president, he made a speech in Pennsylvania 
which told the story of the election in detail. 1 When 
he reached Washington he found himself the object 
of a growing southern dislike and suspicion. His 
failure to oppose the northern invaders, his refusal 
to co-operate with the Missourians, and still more his 
letters and speeches, earned him in southern eyes 
the epithets of " incompetent," "corrupt," " traitor," 
and " scoundrel." 

Reeder found Pierce much disturbed by the grow- 
ing excitement in the south over Kansas affairs, and 
unable or unwilling to give him any support. He 
showed so plainly that he would welcome Reeder 's 
resignation that the governor offered to do so, pro- 
vided Pierce would give him a written statement 
approving his conduct; but this Pierce dared not 
do. 2 After fruitless interviews, Reeder returned to 

1 N. Y. Times, May r, 1855. 

2 House Reports, 34 Cong., 1 Sess., No. ?qo, p. 937. 


Kansas, with the eyes of the whole country upon 
him, but sure that his official career was to be a 
short one. The territorial legislature met in July, 
at Pawnee, a town without inhabitants, according to 
contemporary accounts, where Reeder had taken up 
a quantity of land. The governor's message was 
conciliatory, but the legislature disregarded him 
utterly, and, in spite of his indignant protest, ad- 
journed to another settlement, Shawnee Mission, on 
the Missouri border, where it proceeded to enact a 
set of laws which won immediate notoriety. Re- 
gardless of the Calhoun theory of the impotence of 
a mere territorial legislature over slavery, it passed 
statutes to establish and protect the institution in 
the territory, adopting for the purpose the text of 
the Missouri slave code. 

The principal statute, entitled "An act to punish 
offences against slave property," inflicted the death 
penalty for inciting a slave insurrection; death or 
ten years at hard labor for aiding a slave to escape ; 
and two years at hard labor for denying "by speak- 
ing or writing," or by printing or introducing any 
printed matter, "the right of persons to hold slaves 
in this territory.' ' The last section also was note- 
worthy. "No person," it ran, "who is conscien- 
tiously opposed to holding slaves or who does not 
admit the right to hold slaves in this territory, shall 
sit as jurors on the trial of any prosecution for any 
violation of any of the sections of this act." 1 The 
1 Tribune Almanac, 1855, p. 13. 


news' of this legislation intensified the rising anger 
of the north. "This will suffice," said the Tribune, 
"if enforced, to hang nearly every anti-slavery man 
in the territory. . . . And upheld we presume it will 
be." 1 Reeder remained in office but a short time, 
being removed on August 15, nominally because of 
land speculation and "lack of sympathy with the 
people," but everybody knew that it was owing to 
his refusal to adapt himself to the pro-slavery Demo- 
crats. 2 

By this time the country was aware that a new 
and serious "Kansas question" was shaping itself. 
The anti-slavery indignation of the north, which had 
dwindled in the winter of 1855, now rapidly re- 
vived at what appeared the violent and ruthless 
determination on the part of the Missourians to 
make Kansas slave territory with or without law, 
justice, or a majority of voters. The south, equally 
aroused, was now thoroughly committed to the effort 
to defeat the lawless invasions of the northerners, 
and raised a universal voice of approval over the 
Missourian exploits. The Georgia Democratic con- 
vention of June 5, 1855, resolved, "That we sympa- 
thize with the friends of the slavery cause in Kansas 
in their manly efforts to maintain their rights and 
the interests of the southern people, and that we 
rejoice at their recent victories over the paid advent- 
urers and Jesuitical horde of northern abolitionism 

1 N. Y. Tribune, August 16, 1855. 

2 House Reports, 34 Cong., 1 Sess., No. 200, p. 944. 


. . . that the deep interest taken by the people of 
Missouri ... is both natural and proper, and that 
it is their right and duty to extend to their southern 
brethren in the territory every legitimate and honor- 
able sympathy and support." 1 

In the summer of 1855 the situation in Kansas 
was further complicated by the sudden action of the 
northern settlers, who had hitherto played a passive 
part. Led by Dr. Charles Robinson, an aggressive, 
cool-headed politician, an agent of the Emigrant Aid 
Society, who had been in California in 1849, 2 the 
northerners determined to give a new demonstration 
of "popular sovereignty" by repudiating the terri- 
torial legislature as illegal and seeking admission to 
the Union under a state constitution. At the same 
time they prepared to meet force with force in case 
the "Border Ruffians" again invaded the territory. 
Rifles and ammunition were sent for, men were 
drilled, and "Jim" Lane, a reckless, volatile man 
from Indiana, with little soundness of judgment 
but with great natural oratorical ability, became 
the military chief. During September and October 
several mass conventions organized a "Free State 
party" and provided for a constitutional convention, 
which met duly at Topeka, October 23, comprising 
only delegates elected by the Free State settlers, and 
drew up the "Topeka Constitution" prohibiting 
slavery. It is worthy of note that the convention 

1 Richmond Enquirer, June 11, 1855. 

2 Blackmar, Robinson, chaps, ii., iii. 


also submitted to popular vote, simultaneously with 
the constitution, an ordinance prohibiting the en- 
trance of negroes, free or slave, into the state, a fact 
indicating how far from abolitionist the northern 
settlers were. 1 During this time occurred the regular 
election of a territorial delegate ; but the Free State 
men conducted a separate election of their own, 
and unanimously sent Reeder to contest the seat to 
which Whitfield had been re-elected by all the pro- 
slavery votes. 

This policy of the northern settlers stirred the 
southern element to lively indignation and contempt. 
The whole south regarded the Free State movement 
as a trick by which the " abolitionists,' ' defeated in 
the election of the territorial legislature, sought none 
the less to gain control of the region. Missourians 
began to utter threats of violence, and when Shannon 
of Ohio, the new governor, arrived on the scene, he 
found the situation growing daily more menacing. 
Shannon, a Douglas Democrat, favorably disposed 
to the southern claim for Kansas, easily accepted 
the pro-slavery view that the Topeka constitution 
was a revolutionary proceeding, and in his inaugural 
address clearly showed that he meant to oppose the 
northerners. He even presided at a meeting at Leaven- 
worth where the pro-slavery sympathizers organized 
themselves into a " Law-and-Order party" to oppose 
the treasonable plans of the Free State people, and in 
a speech declared "The President is behind you!" 2 

1 Holloway, Kansas, 196. 2 Spring, Kansas, 84. 


By this time it was evident that " popular sover- 
eignty" was producing serious consequences. There 
were two communities in the same territory, living 
in separate towns and governed by separate laws. 
The slightest event might cause a collision, for the 
Missourians were true frontiersmen, habituated to 
the ready use of knife or gun and only waiting for a 
pretext to "clean out the abolition crowd." Cases 
of brawls and shooting became frequent. Finally, 
in late November, just before the time set by the 
Free State men for a vote upon their constitution, 
an episode occurred which nearly brought on civil 
war. A Free State man who had been arrested by 
Sheriff Jones, a red - hot Missourian, for uttering 
threats against a pro-slavery murderer, was freed 
by a band of northerners and taken to Lawrence. 
Without further delay the infuriated sheriff sent 
word to Missouri, and later, as an after-thought, to 
Shannon ; and at once about fifteen hundred excited 
" Border Ruffians " swarmed into the territory, to be 
joined by the pro-slavery, territorial, "Law-and- 
Order" militia. The town of Lawrence was found, 
however, to be surrounded by earthworks, behind 
which lay several hundred Free State men armed in 
part with the dreaded Sharps rifles, and the invad- 
ing force hesitated to attack. This gave time for the 
cooler heads on each side to work for peace; and 
finally Shannon, upon visiting the scene, saw that 
the Free State town had done nothing in the eye of 
the law to call for any such attack, and drew up a 



sort of treaty of peace. The Missourians withdrew 
in great disgust and freely announced that they were 
simply biding their time. 1 

After this bloodless affair, somewhat absurdly 
called the "Wakarusa War," the Free State party 
carried through the rest of its programme undis- 
turbed, except by a few brawls and shooting affrays. 
The Topeka constitution was ratified on December 
15, and the ordinance excluding negroes adopted, and 
on January 15,1856^ governor and a legislature were 
elected. On March 4 the Topeka legislature met, 
and, following the cautious advice of Robinson, the 
governor, made no attempt for the moment to as- 
sume jurisdiction over the pro-slavery settlements, 
but adopted a memorial to Congress asking for ad- 
mission to the Union, and adjourned until the sum- 
mer to await events. 

Such was the astounding result of a year and a 
half of " popular sovereignty" in Kansas. The or- 
ganized immigration from New England; the Mis- 
sourian retort of fraud and intimidation ; the illegal 
voting, and the extreme pro-slavery action of the 
Shawnee Mission legislature were utterly beyond the 
imagination of the senators and representatives who 
passed the bill in 1854. On the other hand, the at- 
tempted imitation of California by the Free State 
men, involving a defiance of the territorial authori- 
ties and an ignoring of nearly one-half of the actual 
inhabitants of the territory, was a total surprise to 

1 Robinson, Kansas, 138; Holloway, Kansas, 249. 


the eastern anti-Nebraska men. The settlers in 
Kansas, without direction from any quarter, took 
affairs into their own hands, and created a political 
situation as exciting as the original Kansas ques- 
tion, and far more ominous. The time had come 
when the federal government could not avoid taking 
a hand. The rival organizations, the contesting 
delegates, and the imminent danger of war between 
the factions forced Congress and the president to 
act. When the thirty-fourth Congress, chosen in 
the months of political upheaval, met in December, 
1855, the attention of the whole country was fo- 
cussed upon the struggle for control of the territory, 
and sectional passions were deeply involved. 




WHILE the course of events in Kansas was lead- 
ing, through violence and illegality, to the verge 
of civil war, national political organization was also 
passing through a crisis. The question before the 
country after the election of 1854 was whether an 
anti-slavery party should win the support of north- 
ern voters, or whether the old Whig party, compris- 
ing southern as well as northern members, should 
be revived under some new form. As the sudden 
anger over the repeal of the Missouri Compromise 
died away, and the issue of the control of the ter- 
ritorial government did not for a year come before 
Congress, old political traditions tended to draw men 
into organizations which claimed to be national 
rather than sectional, and which avoided the old 
danger of arousing the south and endangering the 
stability of the Union. 

These feelings worked strongly against the Repub- 
lican party in the year 1855, and aided a vigorous 
effort, which now began, to create a successor to the 
old Whig party through the expansion of the Know- 


Nothings into a national organization. The nation- 
al council of November, 1854, adopted a new Union 
oath which placed the order on much the same basis 
as the 1 ' Union -saving" compromisers of 1850 and 
1851. "You will discourage and denounce," it ran, 
" any attempt coming from any quarter ... to destroy 
or subvert it or to weaken its bonds, . . . and you will 
use your influence to procure an amicable adjust- 
ment of all political discontents or differences which 
may- threaten its injury or overthrow. You do fur- 
ther promise and swear that you will not vote for 
any one . . . whom you know or believe to be in 
favor of a dissolution of the Union ... or who is 
endeavoring to produce that result." 1 

This action paved the way for others besides anti- 
slavery and anti-foreign enthusiasts to enter the 
organization; and in the winter and spring of 1855 
councils were formed all over the United States, 
honey - combing the local Republican or anti- Ne- 
braska coalitions of the west with a Know-Nothing 
oath-bound membership, and practically absorbing 
the entire southern Whig body. 2 

By the spring of 1855 the wildest claims were 
made for the order ; it was said to have a sworn enrol- 
ment of over a million voters and to be able to con- 
trol every city and nearly every state 3 in the Union. 

1 Scisco, Political Nativism, 137; Cluskey. Political Text Book, 
66. 3 Hodgson, Cradle of the Confederacy , 354-357. 

'Wilson, Slave Power, II., 422; Whitney, Defence of Am. 
Policy, 285. 


The spring elections turned over Rhode Island, New 
Hampshire, and Connecticut into the hands of the 
Know-Nothings, and thus gave color to these asser- 
tions; but the Virginia campaign in May, 1855, 
showed that in the south the Know-Nothings were 
merely the Whigs under a new name. Henry A. 
Wise, the Democratic candidate for governor, made 
a powerful canvass of the state and was successful, 
after a savage contest, by ten thousand majority. 1 
Thenceforward the extravagant claims for the Know- 
Nothings were discounted, but although it was seen 
that it could not revolutionize the south, its control 
of the north was not yet disproved. 

By this time, however, two obstacles to the tri- 
umphant progress of the Know-Nothing party were 
becoming visible. In the first place, the attitude of 
its northern and southern members was fundament- 
ally different on slavery matters. The New England 
Know - Nothings were anti - slavery men, who had 
joined the society in order to strike at the Pierce 
administration; and when they gained control of a 
state they enacted laws to obstruct the return of 
fugitive slaves, passed resolutions denouncing the 
repeal of the Missouri Compromise, and elected anti- 
slavery men to the United States Senate. 2 But the 
southern Know-Nothings, although old Whigs, and 
strongly Unionist, were equally pro -slavery, and the 

1 Hambleton, Political Campaign in Virginia, 233. 

2 Wilson, Slave Power, II., 424; Haynes, A Know-Nothing 
Legislature (Am. Hist. Assoc., Report, 1896), p. 77. 


chief ground of attack against them by the southern 
Democrats was not so much their secret and prescrip- 
tive platform as the fact of their being in the same 
order with the New England Americans. " Know- 
Not hingism," said a Virginia Democratic address, 
" has its origin and growth in those quarters of the 
Union where Abolitionism is most powerful. . . . 
Every election in which Northern Know-Nothing- 
ism has triumphed has inured to the benefit of Abo- 
litionism. . . . We appeal to Southern men, without 
distinction of party, to ponder the consequences be- 
fore they cooperate with this organization." 1 The 
danger of sectional difficulty in the new Union party 
was visible almost as soon as it was created. 

The other weakness of the new party lay in the 
fact that it was almost without strong leaders. Ex- 
cept in the northernmost slave states, where such 
men as Clayton, of Delaware, and Bell, of Tennessee, 
gave it some support, the conservative Whigs who 
might have been in sympathy with its non-sectional 
and Unionist aspirations recoiled in disgust from its 
riotous and proscriptive character and its secret ma- 
chinery. Such men as Winthrop and Choate, of 
Massachusetts, representing the Webster tradition, 
were entirely out of sympathy with it. In the south, 
such influential men as Stephens and Toombs, of 
Georgia, and Benjamin, of Louisiana, went squarely 
over to the Democratic party. " I know of but one 

1 Hambleton, Political Campaign in Virginia, 127; Richmond 
Enquirer, March 6, 1855. 


class of people," said Stephens, "that I look upon as 
dangerous to the country. . . . This class of men at 
the North, of which the Massachusetts, New Hamp- 
shire and Connecticut legislatures are but samples, I 
consider as our worst enemies; and to put them 
down I will join as political allies, now and forever, 
all true patriots at the North and South, whether 
native or adopted. . . . Their very organization is 
not only anti-American, anti-Republican, but at war 
with the fundamental law of the Union and therefore 
revolutionary in its character." 1 

The abler anti-slavery leaders at the north in like 
manner held aloof from the movement. Seward, 
Chase, and Sumner refused to countenance the party, 
and Greeley, in the Tribune, openly scoffed at it, 
declaring, in a phrase which became permanently 
attached to it, that "it would seem as devoid of the 
elements of permanence as an anti-Cholera or anti- 
Potato -rot party would be." 2 Almost the only 
strong leader in the north was Wilson, of Massachu- 
setts, a sincere anti- slavery man whose political 
career showed boldness, shrewdness, and a light re- 
gard of party ties. Using the Know-Nothing party 
simply as a means to secure the redemption of 
Massachusetts from the "Cotton Whigs," and bring 
about his own election to the Senate, he was entirely 
willing to destroy it in the interests of the anti- 
slavery cause. 3 Left, then, to the management of 

1 Cleveland, Stephens, 468, 480. 

''Tribune Almanac, 1855, p. 23. 3 Wilson, Slave Power, II., 423. 


men new to public life or drawn from the ranks of 
minor politicians, the party showed no efficient 

When the national council of the order met, in 
June, 1855, at Philadelphia, the differences between 
northern and southern Know-Nothings led to a sharp 
contest over the attitude of the body upon slavery in 
the territories. Anti-Catholic and anti-foreign dec- 
larations were unanimously accepted; but it took 
days of hot debate before the council, by a vote of 
80 to 59, could adopt the following resolution : " Pre- 
termitting any opinion upon the power of Congress 
to establish or prohibit slavery in the territories, it 
is the sense of this National Council that Congress 
ought not to legislate on the subject of slavery with- 
in the territories of the United States, and that any 
interference by Congress with slavery as it exists in 
the District of Columbia would be ... a breach of 
the National faith." 1 From this time on the order 
stood committed to the familiar policy of expressly 
conciliating the south. 

f By this time the practical identity of the Know- 
Nothing, or American party, as it now styled itself, 
with the Whigs was manifest in membership and 
character. A year of pretence at mystery had ex- 
hausted the efficacy of that device, and when the 
proceedings of the national council were reported, 
unchecked, to newspapers day by day, it was evi- 
dent that the oaths, grips, passwords, and ritual had 

* Wilson, Slave Power, II., 423-433. 


ceased to serve their purpose. 1 From this time the 
state organizations ordinarily held open conventions 
and went before the voters as the "American party,' ' 
although in popular language the name Know-Noth- 
ing lingered on. In the elections of 1855 the south- 
ern Know - Nothings carried Maryland, Kentucky, 
and Texas, and cast a respectable minority in other 
states; in the extreme west, also as a pro-slavery 
party, they carried California; but in the north, 
although they carried New York — where the irrecon- 
cilable "Hard" and "Soft" Democrats still ran 
separate tickets — their vote fell off badly in Massa- 
chusetts and Pennsylvania, for not even the repudia- 
tion of the troublesome twelfth section of the Phila- 
delphia platform could hold anti-slavery members. 2 
The Republicans also lost ground, being unable to 
gain in the states where the Know-Nothings were 
strong. Their only victory was in Ohio, which elect- 
ed Chase governor over both a Democratic competi- 
tor and a candidate supported by Whigs and Know- 
Nothings. At the expense of these two parties the 
Democrats profited, making a bold campaign in 
every state, denouncing the sectionalism of the Re- 
publicans and the proscriptive aims of the Ameri- 
cans. They carried five southern states, and regained 
Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Maine, the last through 
Whig assistance. On the whole, the year ended with 
the political future still doubtful. It looked very 

1 Merriam, Bowles, I., 138. 

2 Scisco, Political Nativism, 154-169. 


much as if the old situation had returned, with the 
Know-Nothings occupying the place of the Whigs, 
the Republicans standing as an enlarged Free Soil 
party, and the Democrats likely to maintain them- 
selves against a divided opposition. 

But by this time the rising excitement over the 
situation in Kansas began to influence the situa- 
tion. The enthusiasm of the people of the north for 
the Free State cause in Kansas resembled that of a 
country at the beginning of a war. Newspapers 
were crowded with inflammatory editorials, articles, 
and extracts from letters of northern emigrants de- 
scribing acts of violence and cruelty. 1 Public meet- 
ings were held everywhere, in which speakers made 
urgent appeals for volunteers, subscriptions, and 
arms for Kansas. One such, at New Haven, Con- 
necticut, attained national fame. After an address 
by Henry Ward Beecher, fifty rifles were subscribed 
for to fit out a party of emigrants sent under the 
auspices of the Congregationalist clergy and church- 
members of the city. 2 Beecher 's advocacy of the 
use of Sharps rifles by the Kansas settlers led to 
their being termed " Beecher's Bibles " by friend and 

On the other side, the south was thrilled with 
anger and alarm. Atchison, of Missouri, made ur- 
gent appeal for southern aid, reiterating that the 
future of the institution of slavery was bound up in 

1 Thayer, Kansas Crusade, 164 et seq. 

2 N. Y. Independent, March 26, 1856. 


the outcome of the contest for Kansas. " If Kansas 
is abolit ionized/' he wrote, "Missouri ceases to be a 
slave state, New Mexico becomes a free state, Califor- 
nia remains a free state ; but if we secure Kansas as 
a slave state, Missouri is secure, New Mexico and 
southern California, if not the whole of it, becomes 
a slave state ; in a word, the prosperity or ruin of 
the whole south depends on the Kansas struggle." 1 
In response to such appeals, an agitation for money 
and men spread over the south, with public meet- 
ings, fiery speeches, subscriptions, and the raising 
of companies of emigrants. 2 Attempts were even 
made in the Alabama and Georgia legislatures 
to pass acts offering state aid to Kansas emi- 

Yet, although southern feeling was deeply stirred, 
the results of this agitation did not equal those of 
the simultaneous northern propaganda ; and the only 
important reinforcement provided in the winter of 
1856 was a company of less than three hundred men 
raised by Colonel Buford, of Alabama, largely at his 
own personal expense. This force, which went un- 
armed, in deference to a proclamation of President 
Pierce, set forth from Montgomery with gifts of 
Bibles, amid prayers and enthusiastic popular sym- 
pathy; but upon its arrival in the territory it was 
immediately armed as part of the territorial militia. 
By the end of February it was clear that the coming 

l N. Y. Tribune, November 7, 1855. 
2 De Bow's Review, June, 1856, p. 741, 


spring would find men swarming into Kansas, with 
what results no one could foresee. 1 

In the midst of this increasing excitement, the 
ill-fated American party tore itself to pieces upon 
the unavoidable issue. The first proof of its fatal 
weakness appeared in a contest for the speakership 
of the House of Representatives, which delayed the 
conduct of all public business from the meeting 
of Congress in December, 1855, until the end of 
February, 1856. The regular administration Demo- 
crats numbered only seventy-five in place of the one 
hundred and fifty-nine who controlled the previous 
Congress, and their candidate was Richardson. The 
opposition, elected in the political whirlwind of 1854, 
was too heterogeneous to combine. The largest sin- 
gle group comprised about one hundred and seven- 
teen Americans, leaving about forty " straight" Re- 
publicans and a number of independents. But of the 
Know-Nothing plurality, only about forty could be 
held together in support of Fuller, of Pennsylvania, 
the avowedly American candidate. Nearly all the 
rest joined the Republicans in voting for Banks, of 
Massachusetts, who had just abandoned the Know- 
Nothing party for the Republican. For weeks, 
running into months, the tripartite struggle went 
on, in an irregular running debate, mainly on 
the Kansas issue, interrupted with ballotings for 

1 Fleming, "Buford's Expedition to Kansas," in Am. Hist. 
Rev., VL, 38; Hodgson, Cradle of the Confederacy, 347-353. 


January 12, 1856, the three candidates explained 
their views. Banks insisted that Congress had both 
the power and the duty to prohibit slavery in the 
territories ; Fuller denied that either Congress or the 
territorial legislature had any power except to pro- 
tect slavery; while Richardson stood on Douglas's 
ground that, whether Congress had the right to pro- 
hibit slavery or not, it rested with the territorial 
government to afford protection. 1 Incessant at- 
tempts at coalition between Democrats and southern 
Know-Nothings, and between Republicans and all 
other anti-Nebraska men, were fruitless. The House 
in exhaustion voted to elect by a plurality, and 
Banks was chosen, February 2, by 103 votes to 100 
for Aiken, of South Carolina. 2 This victory ended a 
long period of suspense; the defeated southerners 
acquiesced in the result, and the House was finally 
ready for business. 

A few days later the Know-Not hing party, shat- 
tered as a congressional group, also broke into pieces 
as a political organization. February 18 a national 
council of the order met at Philadelphia, modified 
the party platform by striking out the objectionable 
twelfth section, and inserting a clause which demand- 
ed congressional non-interference with "domestic 
and social affairs " in a territory, and condemned the 
Pierce administration for reopening sectional agita- 

1 Cong. Globe, 34 Cong., 1 Sess., 11 et seq. 

2 Rhodes, United States, II., 112-116; Von Hoist, United 
States, V., 220-223; Follett, Speaker of the House, 56-60. 


tion by the repeal of the Missouri Compromise. 1 No 
such attempt to befog the issue could prevent a 
crisis when the nominating convention of the Amer- 
ican party assembled four days later in the same 
place. The anti-slavery northern members refused 
to be bound by the platform just adopted by the 
order, and demanded that no candidates be nomi- 
nated who were not in favor of interdicting slavery 
north of 3 6° 30' by congressional action. When 
this proviso was laid on the table, at once a score 
of members withdrew. The next day the conven- 
tion nominated ex -President Fillmore, the man 
who had signed the fugitive-slave law, with Donel- 
son, of Tennessee, for vice-president. Thereupon 
more members seceded and joined the earlier bolters 
in a call for a national convention of all 1 'Americans 
opposed to the establishment of slavery in any of 
the territory which was covered by the Missouri 
Compromise/ ' at New York in June. 2 Plainly the 
American party as a national organization was bank- 
rupt. Sectional passions were too strong to enable 
men from north and south to stand on a common 
platform ignoring slavery, and the party was mori- 
bund before it was two years old. 

On the same day with the American convention, 
the first Republican national convention met at 
Pittsburg, under a call from the state committees of 
nine states, but with delegates present from twenty- 

1 Scisco, Political Nativism, 173 et seq.; Wilson, Slave Power, 
II., 508. 2 N. Y. Times, June 13, 1856. 


three. The proceedings were full of enthusiasm, for 
the leaders felt that with ordinary prudence and 
adequate organization their party might absorb 
all the dissatisfied Know-Nothings and follow up 
its victory in the speakership contest with one in 
the coming presidential election. Resolutions were 
adopted looking to a thorough political organization ; 
a national committee was appointed, one of whose 
members was Governor Robinson, of Kansas ; and a 
national nominating convention was called for June 
17. On the Kansas question, the party took the full 
Free State position by demanding the admission of 
the territory as a state under the Topeka constitu- 
tion. 1 

By the end of February, 1856, the results of the 
Kansas excitement were visible in the definite failure 
of the American party and the practical certainty 
that the Republican party would take its place in 
the north. The presidential election was to be con- 
tested by a northern sectional party, long dreaded 
by all conservatives ; and the outcome must depend 
largely on the course of events in Kansas and the 
way in which Congress and the administration dealt 
with them. The situation was highly critical, in- 
creasing in tension with every week. 

1 Errett, "Formation of the Rep. Party," in Mag. West. Hist., 
X., 180; Julian, "First Rep. Nat. Conv.," in Ant. Hist. Rev., IV., 

*. ,. . .... 



WHEN Congress was ready for action, the Kan- 
sas situation presented a threefold problem: 
the policy of the federal government towards the 
territory ; the attitude which parties should take on 
the pressing question; and the effect of the contro- 
versy on the election of a president, vice-president, 
and congressmen. By this time Pierce had definitely 
committed himself. During the early stages of the 
Kansas difficulties the administration had not inter- 
vened directly except to remove Reeder ; while noth- 
ing was done against the fraudulent territorial legis- 
lature, no impediment was placed in the way of the 
Free State party movements ; and Shannon, in the 
"Wakarusa War," tried in vain to get the use of 
federal troops against Lawrence. Every instinct of 
caution urged Pierce to avoid a decisive stand which 
would furnish an opportunity for further party at- 
tacks. But to expect Pierce to separate himself 
from his party leaders, or even to restrain them, was 
out of the question. With his cabinet and Douglas, 
as well as the southern spokesmen, united in clisap- 


proving the Free State programme, it was inevitable 
that he should adopt their attitude. 

On January 24, 1856, he sent a special message on 
Kansas, which totally condemned the Topeka move- 
ment in precisely the terms employed by the lead- 
ing southern newspapers and speakers. The whole 
trouble, he said, arose from the Emigrant Aid Society, 
" that extraordinary measure of propagandist coloni 
zation of the Territory of Kansas to prevent the 
free and natural action of its inhabitants in its inter- 
nal organization. " After criticising Reeder's career 
with severity, he declared the Topeka organization 
to be " revolutionary." " It will become treasonable 
insurrection," he said, "if it reaches the length of 
organized resistance to the fundamental or to any 
other federal law and to the authority of the general 
government." In phraseology which to Republi- 
cans seemed intended as a direct offer of aid to the 
" Border Ruffians," he intimated his purpose to use 
force to suppress insurrection, and, if summoned by 
territorial authority, to prevent invasions of citizens 
of other states. "But," he added, "it is not the 
duty of the president of the United States to volun- 
teer interposition by force to preserve the purity of 
elections." His sole recommendation to Congress 
was the passage of an enabling act for the formation 
of a state constitution. 1 \ 

On February 1 1 he issued a proclamation directed 
against both " Border Ruffians " and Free State men, 

1 Richardson, Messages and Papers , V., 350. 


warning persons planning insurrection or invasion to 
disperse, announcing his purpose to use federal troops 
to maintain order, and calling upon citizens of other 
states "to abstain from unauthorized intermeddling 
in the local affairs of the territory." 1 Regarded as 
a tactical move, Pierce's ^action was needless unless 
the immediate necessity of satisfying his southern 
constituents overbore all other considerations. The 
administration needed to avoid every appearance of 
partiality, and in this Pierce was wholly unsuccessful. 
His attitude rendered any action by Congress impos- 
sible unless the anti-slavery majority in the House 
chose to accept his ground ; and it furnished at the 
same time a vulnerable point for attacks from an 
excited and hostile north. The upshot was the 
total failure of action by Congress and a steady in- 
crease in popular agitation, while in Kansas the 
situation went from bad to worse. 

The congressional contest was opened by a report 
from the committee on territories, by Douglas, who 
demonstrated to his own satisfaction the entire legal- 
ity of the territorial legislature and the illegality of 
the Topeka organization, laying the blame for every- 
thing upon the Emigrant Aid Societies, which he 
called "combinations to stimulate an unnatural and 
false system of emigration with a view to controlling 
elections." Collamer, of Vermont, in a minority 
report, laid emphasis upon the Missourian invasions, 
which Douglas contemptuously minimized, and de- 

1 Richardson, Messages and Papers, V., 390. 

VOL. XVIII. — 11 


fended the character of the Free State leaders. 1 A 
few days later, March 17, Douglas introduced a bill 
for the settlement of Kansas affairs in the form of 
an enabling act for the election of a constitutional 
convention, and advocated it in a powerful speech. 
As usual he took the offensive from the start, merci- 
lessly attacking Reeder's record, and pointing out 
that before the Free State men determined to re- 
pudiate the territorial legislature as illegal they had 
repeatedly recognized it. He proved, by quota- 
tions from utterances of the more hot-blooded 
Topeka leaders, including a phrase of Reeder's about 
carrying the contest to "a bloody issue,' 1 that the 
Free State movement was "a case of open and un- 
disguised rebellion." In conclusion he savagely de- 
nounced the operations of the Emigrant Aid Society. 
"The people of Missouri," he insisted, "never con- 
templated the invasion and conquest of the territory 
of Kansas; to whatever extent they had imitated 
the example of the New England Emigrant Aid 
Societies, it was done upon the principles of self- 
defence. . . . From these facts it is apparent that 
the whole responsibility for all the disturbances in 
Kansas rests upon the Massachusetts Emigrant Com- 
pany and its affiliated Societies." 2 This bill and the 
speech, stripped of the abuse of the Emigrant Aid 
Society and the special pleading in behalf of the 
territorial government, meant that Douglas and 

1 Senate Reports, 34 Cong., 1 Sess., No. 34. 

2 Cong. Globe, 34 Cong., 1 Sess., App., 285. 


Pierce and their associates recognized the difficul- 
ties of the existing situation to the extent of being 
willing to provide an opportunity for the people of 
the territory to vote on the slavery problem. 

The anti-Nebraska opposition, however, was not 
ready to abandon the Kansas question to the Pierce 
administration, and met Douglas's plan by advo- 
cating the admission of Kansas under the Topeka 
constitution. When the application of the Topeka 
legislature was brought to Washington by Lane, the 
Free State leader, it was done in such a bungling 
manner as to enable the Democrats to handle the 
memorial without mercy ; 1 but the efficiency of the 
Republicans in debate was such as to put the admin- 
istration on the defensive. Hale, Sumner, Seward, 
and Wade were now joined by Trumbull, of Illinois, 
Harlan, of Iowa, and Wilson, of Massachusetts, and 
they made a series of severe attacks upon the pro- 
slavery party in Kansas. Wilson, always a bold 
speaker, filled parts of two days with a description 
of the Missourians' violence and the fraudulent vot- 
ing, and a defence of the New England settlers. 
"Sir," he said, "the Emigrant Aid Society of New 
England has violated no law, human or divine. 
Standing here, sir, before the Senate and the Coun- 
try, I challenge the Senator from Missouri or any 
other Senator, to furnish to the Senate one fact, one 
authenticated fact to show that the Emigrant Aid 
Society has performed any illegal act, any act incon- 
1 Cong. Globe, 34 Cong., 1 Sess., 226, 239. 


sistent with the obligations of patriotism, morality 
or religion. . . . Those who charge the emigrants 
from the North with aggression upon the members 
of other sections of the country, utter that which 
has not the shadow of an element of truth in it and 
they know it or they are grossly ignorant of Kansas 
affairs." 1 

In the House the Kansas question took the form 
of a struggle for the seat of congressional delegate, 
which was contested by Whitfield and Reeder ; and 
after a month of heated discussion the matter was 
shelved for a time by the appointment of a special 
committee to visit Kansas and report on the conduct 
of elections in the territory. A practical result of 
the election of an anti-Nebraska speaker was the 
appointment by Banks of Sherman, of Ohio, and 
Howard, of Michigan, as the majority of the com- 
mittee, with Oliver, of Missouri, as the only Dem- 
ocrat. For a time, after the departure of this 
committee, Kansas matters occupied a less promi- 
nent place. 

While matters were thus in suspense in Congress, 
Pierce's message and proclamation led to grave 
events in Kansas. As soon as spring brought the 
opening of navigation on the Missouri River, northern 
and southern reinforcements began to enter the ter- 
ritory where, during the previous cold winter, there 
had been an entire cessation of hostilities. The time 
had now come, in the opinion of the pro-slavery 

1 Cong. Globe, 34 Cong., 1 Sess., 90, 95. 


party, for a decisive stroke ; and, relying on Pierce's 
utterances and the speeches of dozens of Democrats 
as promises of support in enforcing their authority, 
they decided to expunge the Free State party by 
legal process. A pretext came when Sheriff Jones, 
whose conduct in and about the town of Lawrence 
can only be interpreted as inspired by a desire to 
pick a quarrel, was shot in the back by a northern 
assassin. Although the Free State leaders made 
every effort to disavow the attempted murder, Judge 
Lecompte, of the territorial court, seizing upon this 
as evidence of the lawless character of the whole Free 
State party, charged a grand jury that all who resist 
the territorial laws "resist the power and authority 
of the United States and are therefore guilty of high 
treason. If you find that no resistance has been 
made, but that combinations have been formed for 
the purpose of resisting them, . . . then you must 
find bills for constructive treason." 1 

The jury, composed of pro-slavery men, promptly 
indicted Reeder, Robinson, Lane, and all the Free 
State leaders for treason, and presented the Free 
State Hotel and the Free State newspaper in Law- 
rence as nuisances. The blow was well aimed. 
Reeder fled from the territory in disguise, and Rob- 
inson was caught in Missouri, brought back to Kan- 
sas and kept a prisoner, in danger of his life from 
a pro-slavery mob. Then, on May 11, the United 
States marshal summoned a posse to abate the 

1 Phillips, Conquest of Kansas, 267. 


nuisance of the Free State Hotel, and at once the 
Border Ruffians came over the river and were joined 
by the Kansas territorial — that is, pro - slavery — 
militia, including Buford's band. The Free State 
people, hesitating to oppose a federal officer, tried to 
placate their enemies by public meetings and prom- 
ises, but Jones, Stringfellow, Atchison, and the rest 
were not to be balked a second time. Lawrence was 
entered on May 21, the hotel burned, the press 
destroyed, some leaders arrested, and many houses 
pillaged. Though only two lives were lost in this 
affair, the intensely partisan action of Lecompte and 
the grand jury, and the reckless destruction of 
property by the so-called posse, made a profound 
impression at the east. 1 

Almost simultaneously with this action in Kansas, 
an episode in Congress stirred popular feeling to 
the depths. May 19, Sumner delivered a speech in 
the Senate which, in the tension of the time, fairly 
drove southern members to fury. It was entitled 
"The Crime against Kansas," and very nearly merit- 
ed the name he attached to it — "the most thorough 
philippic ever uttered in a legislative body." Sum- 
ner was a high-minded philanthropist, utterly inca- 
pable of understanding an opponent, and to him the 
attempt to make Kansas a slave state was something 
inconceivably repulsive. On this occasion he freed 
his mind with almost hyperbolical language in a 
speech as offensive and insulting to the south as the 

1 Robinson, Kansas, 234-264. 


fertile imagination of the author could possibly make 
it. Mixed in were personalities as contemptuous and 
sneering as could be uttered in the Senate, aimed at 
Douglas and especially at Butler, of South Carolina, 
who had made a savage attack on Sumner two years 
before, which had not been forgotten. 1 

Douglas rose on the spot and repaid Sumner's 
attack with vituperation of equal bitterness and 
scorn; but southern leaders, when insulted, felt that 
they needed a different sort of satisfaction, for in 
their eye Sumner had put himself so far below the 
plane of decency as to be worthy only of such chastise- 
ment as one would give to a dog or an impudent slave. 
Two days after the conclusion of Sumner's speech, 
a relative of Senator Butler's, a member of the House 
from South Carolina named Preston S. Brooks, who 
was personally unknown to Sumner, entered the Sen- 
ate chamber at the close of the session, stood by Sum- 
ner's desk, and, after stating who he was, struck him, 
without further warning, a heavy blow on the head. 
Stunned and blinded, Sumner was unable to make 
any resistance, and was quickly beaten into insensi- 
bility, while Keitt, of South Carolina, and Edmund- 
son, of Virginia, stood by to prevent interference, 
and Toombs, Douglas, and a number of other Dem- 
ocrats remained quietly in the vicinity. 2 

1 Cong. Globe, 34 Cong., 1 Sess., App., 329-347 ; Pierce, Sumner, 
III., 441-460. 

2 House Reports, 34 Cong., 1 Sess., No. 182, p. 3; Pierce, Sumner, 
III., 462-477. 


This affair produced a tremendous sensation. The 
Senate could take no action, since Brooks was a 
member of the other branch of Congress, but the 
House appointed an investigating committee, which 
took evidence and reported on June 2. An attempt 
to expel Brooks and Keitt failed to receive a two- 
thirds vote, but each resigned, to be triumphantly 
returned by his admiring constituents. Although 
Sumner barely escaped with his life and was practi- 
cally unable to occupy his seat in the Senate for 
three years, he was commonly sneered at in the 
south for simulating illness in order to win sympathy. 
" Sumner and his friends," wrote hot-blooded Gov- 
ernor Wise, of Virginia, "lie like people with brains 
already soft. . . . Such skulking poltroonery would 
hurt a man anywhere that the institution of slavery 
exalts masters to a pride of genteel manhood. At 
first I regretted the caning, now I am glad of it." 1 
Almost two years later, when Sumner had recovered 
sufficiently to vote in the Senate but not to speak, 
the correspondent of the Charleston Mercury de- 
scribed him as a "masterpiece of hypocrisy, cow- 
ardice and infamy," exciting the "ridicule and con- 
tempt of the spectators as they looked at his gross, 
beefy, carcass, which he would have his nigger- 
worshipping friends believe was still laboring under 
the affliction of great feebleness and debility." 2 

The differing points of view of north and south 

1 Unpublished letter, July 13, 1856. 

2 Charleston Mercury, March 26, 1858. 


were clearly brought out by this assault. In the 
north the provocation given by the coarse personali- 
ties of Sumner's speech was ignored, and the action 
of Brooks was regarded as typical of the slave- 
holder. The cowardice shown in attacking a man 
under such a disadvantage was the chief feature 
which impressed the north. "I denounce it," cried 
Burlingame, of Massachusetts, in the House, "in the 
name of that fair play which bullies and prize-fighters 
respect. What! strike a man when he is pinioned 
— when he cannot respond to a blow! Call you 
that chivalry?" 1 On the other hand, Brooks was 
enthusiastically praised by southern congressmen, 
newspapers, and public meetings, was given canes 
by admiring young men, and eulogized as the person- 
ification of " gallantry." To them he had soundly 
thrashed an abolitionist, and the circumstances of 
the deserved punishment did not matter. 2 The vio- 
lence which shocked northern men struck the 
southerners as normal. A writer in the Southern 
Literary Messenger summed up the affair by saying 
that a "foul-mouthed blackguard, presuming upon 
his senatorial prerogative for immunity from casti- 
gation, thought fit to malign an old gentleman and 
received a severe caning at the hands of a kinsman," 
and expressed surprise at so much stir over "the 
ordinary occurrence of one man's chastising an- 

1 Cong. Globe, 34 Cong., 1 Sess., App., 655. 

2 Pierce, Sumner, III., 488 ; Von Hoist, United States, V., 


other." 1 Brooks himself showed sufficient sensi- 
tiveness to the persistent accusation of cowardice to 
challenge Senator Wilson and Representative Bur- 
lingame, but although the latter accepted, the duel 
did not come off, owing to the well- justified hesita- 
tion of Brooks to risk crossing New York to reach 
the appointed fighting-ground at Niagara. 

By June the situation in Kansas was growing more 
serious every day; the policy of the administration 
had not prevented matters from growing worse, and 
the debates in Congress served no purpose but to 
inflame sectional feeling. Congressmen now went 
armed and were prepared to meet violence with 
violence. 2 Under these conditions the various na- 
tional nominating conventions met, and the presi- 
dential campaign opened. 

1 Southern Literary Messenger, XXIV., 29 (January, 1857). 

2 Riddle, Wade, 215; Pike, First Blows of the Civil War, 339. 



IN the campaign of 1856 it was seen that the new, 
long - dreaded sectional party, although confined 
to the free states, might still elect a president should 
it carry all of them. That could be done only by 
destroying the hold upon northern voters of both 
Know-Nothings and Democrats, and nothing was so 
likely to accomplish this result as the continuance 
of the sectional anger stirred up by the Kansas 
troubles. Hence, the Democrats and Know-Noth- 
ings were eager to settle the Kansas difficulty and 
remove this source of Republican votes; but the 
control by the Republicans of the House of Repre- 
sentatives and their insistence on the admission of 
Kansas under the Topeka constitution prevented 
any compromise. The new party would accept no 
settlement of Kansas except on its own terms, and 
did not intend in the mean time to destroy its chief 
political asset by concessions. Under such circum- 
stances the question of party nominations and plat- 
forms became one of the utmost importance. 

The Democrats led the way on June 2 at Cincin- 



nati. Their problem, although requiring caution, 
was comparatively simple, for the elections of the 
preceding year had assured them that the American 
movement would not disturb the normal Demo- 
cratic majorities at the south; and the party must 
simply nominate a candidate who would recall the 
wanderers in the north. Hence, the convention 
discarded both Pierce and Douglas, who were far 
too intimately connected with Kansas affairs, and 
chose Buchanan on the seventeenth ballot, with 
Breckinridge, of Kentucky, for vice-president. Bu- 
chanan was a conservative man, an original Jackson 
Democrat, a resident of the doubtful state of Penn- 
sylvania, and had been minister to England during 
most of the Kansas controversy. The platform con- 
tained the substance of earlier ones and added a 
recognition of "the principles contained in the or- 
ganic laws establishing the territories of Kansas 
and Nebraska as embodying the only sound and 
safe solution of the slavery question, " asserting the 
right of the people of the territories, " acting through 
the legally and fairly expressed will of the majority 
of the actual residents and whenever the number 
of their inhabitants justifies to form a constitution, 
with or without slavery." 1 

On the same day, in New York, met the national 
convention called by the anti-slavery Know-Nothings. 
This body drew up a platform almost wholly Republi- 
can in character, demanding " Free territory and Free 

1 Stanwood, Hist, of the Presidency, 266-268. 


Kansas," and after much debate and ten ballots nom- 
inated Banks, the speaker, for president, evidently 
hoping that the Republicans would ratify this choice. 1 
The Republican convention met a few days later, 
on June 17. For this new body, the problem was 
to find a candidate who should be sufficiently strong 
on the Kansas issue and who should not antagonize 
any of the elements of a new coalition. To the poli- 
ticians who led the nascent party it was clear that 
none of the congressional leaders would do — Chase 
was obnoxious to Whigs, Wade and Seward to 
Democrats and Know-Not hings, and Banks had too 
recently been a Democrat. So, with a shrewdness 
born of long practical experience, a "boom" was 
worked up for John C. Fremont, a young man al- 
most unknown in politics, with a reputation as an 
explorer in the far west, the son-in-law of Benton 
through a romantic marriage. He had been a 
Democrat, but was anti-slavery in sentiment, had no 
connection with the Know-Nothings, and was sup- 
posed to have a strong hold upon the German vote. 
The general feeling was well expressed by Mace, of 
Indiana, when he wrote to a friend : "It will never 
do to go into this contest and be called upon to 
defend the acts and speeches of old stagers. We 
must have a position that will enable us to be the 
charging party. Fremont is the man." 2 By April 

1 N. Y. Times, June 13-17, 1856. 

2 N. Y. Evening Post, April, 1856, quoted by Rhodes, United 
States, II., 178. 


his candidacy was well under way ; he had written a 
suitable letter on Kansas, and when the convention 
met he was easily nominated by 359 votes to 196 
over old Judge McLean, the candidate of the Penn- 
sylvania delegation and other conservatives. Nei- 
ther Chase's nor Seward's name went before the 
convention. For vice-president, W. L. Dayton, of 
New Jersey, a former Whig, was nominated over 
Abraham Lincoln, of Illinois, the western candidate. 

The platform made the Kansas issue the basis of 
the Republican party. It asserted that Congress 
had no right to establish slavery, but that it could 
and ought to abolish it in the territories, together 
with polygamy, "those twin relics of barbarism." 
It demanded the admission of Kansas under the 
Topeka constitution, denounced the Missourian in^ 
vasions and the pro-slavery territorial government, 
and concluded, "For this high crime against the 
Constitution, the Union and humanity, we arraign 
the administration, the president, his advisers, 
agents, supporters, apologists, and accessories 
before the country and the world." The new party 
in its first campaign took the field with a "dark 
horse" for a candidate, conscious that it must rely 
upon its principles rather than upon its leader- 
ship. 1 

By the time that the party nominees were fairly 
before the people, the long-dreaded civil war had 

1 Stanwood, Hist, of the Presidency, 271; Errett, " Nomimat- 
ing Convention of 1856," in Mag. West. Hist., X., 257. 


broken out in Kansas in the form of guerilla fighting 
and reprisals. The later Free State settlers included 
many men who differed from the " Border Ruffians " 
only in their objects, and within a month from the 
time of the sack of Lawrence they had set the terri- 
tory aflame with alarms and shooting affrays. At 
the start " Old John Brown," an anti-slavery fanatic, 
avenged the death of various Free State settlers by 
dragging five pro - slavery men at night from their 
cabins along Ossawatomie creek and butchering them 
in cold blood. He did this by the simple law of 
retaliation current among North American Indians, 
without any special animosity against those particu- 
lar men, and seems to have felt that it was "God's 
work." 1 The other Free State men disavowed this 
brutal act, but the fighting went on. Shannon is- 
sued proclamations, and used Colonel Sumner, with 
federal troops, to turn back " Border Ruffians" and 
head off Free State bushwhackers, finally dispersing 
the Topeka legislature on July 2 ; but he was wholly 
unable to keep the peace. Bands of men from each 
side wandered over the territory, plundering and 
shooting; arson and assassination went on until 
"the smoke of burning buildings darkened the air," 
agriculture was neglected, two hundred lives were 
lost, and two million dollars' worth of property 
destroyed. Since the Free State party brought 
more capital with them, they suffered the most, 

1 House Reports, 34 Cong., 1 Sess., No. 200, pp. 104-109; 
Sanborn, Brown, 247; Connelly, Brown, 153. 


and since they were less used to arms and fight- 
ing, their military operations were less success- 
ful. 1 

Not until Shannon was replaced by J. W. Geary, 
of Pennsylvania, a stronger man, was this reign of 
brutality and terror brought to a close. Geary's 
vigorous action managed to prevent an attack by 
twenty-five hundred Missourians with cannon upon 
Lawrence; and by November he had succeeded in 
inducing most of the armed bands to dissolve. While 
this was going on, the Missouri River had been 
closed to northern immigrants by Missourian pro- 
slavery sympathizers, who disarmed them and turned 
them back; but a new route was opened through 
Iowa and Nebraska, and so supplies kept coming in. 
Clearly, the superior resources of the north were 
bound to tell in the long run. 

Meanwhile, the administration leaders made a last 
futile effort to deal with the situation, for they saw 
that every day of anarchy in Kansas raised new 
recruits for the Republicans. At the end of June, 
Douglas accepted a bill introduced by Toombs, as 
an amendment to his original Kansas enabling act, 
and in a hard-fought all-night session it was forced 
through the Senate on July 2 by a majority of 33 to 
12. " When you say that we intend to make Kansas 
a slave state," said Toombs, "you say what every 
man of us has stated is not true. . . . We said we 
would leave the people free to act for themselves, 

1 Gihon, Geary, 293; Rhodes, United States, II., 216. 


and if they made it a slave state I should demand 
its admission as such; and if they made it free I 
should stand by them. . . . We require, however, 
that there shall be a fair vote. . . . The Black Re- 
publicans have told us, time and again at this ses- 
sion, that a majority of the people of Kansas are in 
favor of a free state constitution. I propose a means 
of ascertaining it." 1 

The Toombs bill was extremely fair in its pro- 
visions for securing an authentic registration of 
voters and a free ballot upon the choice of a consti- 
tutional convention ; but the Republicans, although 
invited to suggest such amendments as would render 
the bill acceptable, would not support it on any 
terms. "So far as the subject of slavery is con- 
cerned," said Seward, "the most that can be 
claimed for this bill is that it gives an equal chance 
to the people of Kansas to choose between freedom 
and slavery. . . . The standard of political justice 
which commends itself to me is a more rigid one. I 
recognize no equality in moral right or political ex- 
pediency between slavery and freedom. I hold one 
to be decidedly good and the other to be positively 
bad. I do not think it wise, just or necessary to 
give to the people of a territory . . . the privilege 
of choosing slavery. ... On this principle I have 
acted throughout in regard to Kansas. . . . On this 
principle, God give me grace, I shall act in regard 
to all the territories of the United States so long 
1 Cong. Globe, 34 Cong., 1 Sess., App., 871. 

VOL. XVIII. — 12 


as I shall remain here — so long as I shall live." 1 
When the bill came to the House it was not even 
considered. There can be little doubt that the Re- 
publican leaders were strengthened in their unwill- 
ingness to consent to any Kansas compromise by 
their clear comprehension of the importance to their 
party's campaign of the Kansas situation. 

At this time the special committee of the House 
returned from Kansas and made a report upon the 
conduct of territorial elections, which proved a sen- 
sational campaign document for the Republicans. 
"Every election," it summed up, u has been con- 
trolled not by the actual settlers but by citizens of 
Missouri and . . . your committee have been unable 
to find that any political power whatever, however 
unimportant, has ever been exercised by the people 
of the territory." It held that neither Whitfield nor 
Reeder had any legal claim to the delegate's seat, 
and concluded that "in the present condition of the 
territory a fair election cannot be held without . . . 
the selection of impartial judges and the presence of 
United States troops at every place of election." 
Oliver's minority report gave the full history of the 
Ossawatomie massacre, but it made surprisingly little 
impression in the country ; and few believed his asser- 
tion that there was ' ' no evidence that any violence was 
resorted to or force employed by which men were pre- 
vented from voting at any single election precinct." 

1 Cong. Globe, 34 Cong., 1 Sess., App., 790, 792. 

2 House Reports, 34 Cong., 1 Sess., No. 200, pp. 2, 67, 75, 105. 


On the same day the House, by a margin of two 
votes only, passed a bill to admit Kansas under the 
Topeka constitution, which was promptly killed in 
the Senate. Later, just before the end of the ses- 
sion, the House tried to force the hand of the presi- 
dent by attaching a "rider" to the army appropria- 
tion bill, prohibiting the use of federal troops to 
enforce the laws of the territorial legislature; but 
although this caused the failure of the bill in the 
regular session, enough votes shifted in a special 
session, which was immediately called, to give a 
majority of three for a bill without the proviso. 
Congress then adjourned, August 30, leaving Kan- 
sas still in anarchy, as the Republicans intended it 
should be. 

The campaign was now in full blast, and the one 
issue, in the words of Republican stump orators, was 
"Bleeding Kansas." The question of native-Ameri- 
canism vanished, and Fillmore's candidacy, although 
ratified by a Whig national convention in Septem- 
ber, had nothing left for its support except tradi- 
tional conservative sentiment. In every eastern 
state the Republican party, spurred on by the 
bloody news from Kansas, organized on the wreck 
of the American party through a series of bolts and 
secessions, and drew to itself the bulk of the former 
Know-Nothing vote. 1 The anti-slavery Americans, 
whose candidate, Banks, withdrew, ratified Fre- 
mont's nomination, and in every free state enthusi- 
1 Scisco, Political Nativism, 179-187. 


astic stump -speakers denounced the administration 
and predicted a Republican sweep. 

As the summer wore on and the Republican pros- 
pects grew ever brighter, a 4 new and ominous move- 
ment began in the south, whose press and leaders 
now announced that in the event of a Republican 
success the only thing for the slave-holding states to 
do would be instantly to secede. In a few weeks 
this new spirit overran the south and interjected an 
altogether new note into the contest. It began to 
look as though not merely the future of Kansas but 
the integrity of the Union itself was at stake. " If 
Fremont is elected," wrote Governor Wise, of Vir- 
ginia, "there will be a revolution. . . . We will not 
remain in confederacy with enemies." Wise meant 
no empty threats: he bestirred himself to get the 
Virginia militia in readiness for active service and 
summoned a conference of governors of the slave 
states to meet at Raleigh on October 13. 1 In sup- 
port of his movement, Senator Mason, of Virginia, 
wrote to Davis, the secretary of war, asking that 
arms be supplied for the state troops, repeating that 
if Fremont were elected " the south should not pause 
but proceed at once to immediate, absolute and 
eternal separation." 2 

Under this sinister cloud the last part of the 
presidential campaign took a new form. Although 
most of the Republican leaders and newspapers 

1 Unpublished letter, September 16, 1856. 

2 Mason, Life and Corresp. of J. M. Mason, 117. 


laughed at "the stale disunion threat," conserva- 
tives at the north were visibly affected; and the 
advocates for Buchanan and Fillmore concentrated 
their efforts against the Republicans as a sectional 
party whose success meant the end of the Union. 
The plea which had proved successful in 1850 be- 
came the chief ground upon which the two conserva- 
tive parties appealed for votes. " We see a political 
party," said Fillmore, "presenting candidates from 
the Free States alone. . . . Can they have the mad- 
ness or folly to believe that our Southern brethren 
would submit to be governed by such a chief magis- 
trate ? I tell you that we are treading on the brink 
of a volcano. ... If it breaks asunder the bonds 
of our Union, and spreads anarchy and civil war 
through the land, what is it less than moral trea- 
son ? " 1 Buchanan wrote in similar strain : " Should 
Fremont be elected, the outlawry pronounced by the 
Republican Convention at Philadelphia against fif- 
teen Southern states will be ratified by the people 
of the North. The consequences will be immediate 
and inevitable." 2 

To conciliate northern sentiment on the Kansas 
question, Buchanan declared continually, and in 
unqualified terms, that if elected he would secure a 
fair and free vote in the territory. ' ' There is not a 
county in Pennsylvania," said j. W. Forney, the 
campaign manager, "in which my letters may not 

1 Cong. Globe, 34 Cong., 1 Sess., App., 716. 
8 Curtis, Buchanan, II., 180. 



be found, almost by the hundred, pledging Mr. Bu- 
chanan, in his name and by his authority, to the full, 
complete and practical recognition of the right of 
the people of Kansas to decide upon their own 
affairs." 1 Whatever might be the constitutional 
shortcomings of the non-intervention doctrine, and 
however much it fell short of anti-slavery principle, 
it had undeniable elements of popularity; besides 
the apparent merits of fairness and democracy, it ap- 
pealed to the liking for local self-government which 
was ingrained in the north. In Pennsylvania, the 
critical state, this carried especial weight, for there 
anti-slavery sentiment was not strong; and when, 
in the state election in September, the Democratic 
candidate for canal commissioner was chosen over a 
combined Republican and Know-Nothing opposi- 
tion, it was felt that the state was safe. 

The campaign went on with undiminished vigor 
up to the end, but when the votes were counted 
in November it was found that conservatism had 
triumphed; Buchanan was elected by 174 electoral 
votes, carrying every slave state except Maryland, 
which fell to Fillmore, and securing not merely 
Pennsylvania, but four other northern states — New 
Jersey, Indiana, Illinois, and California. Fremont, 
whose personality added nothing to the strength of 
the Republican ticket, received 114 votes from the 
remaining northern states ; while the Know-Nothing 

1 Pike, First Blows of the Civil War, 346; Rhodes, United 
States, II., 229. 


party, which a year before claimed to hold the coun- 
try in its grasp, shrank to small dimensions in the 
north and held only the old, immovable, and con- 
servative Whig substratum in the south. The Kansas 
question had killed it. In the total popular vote, 
greatly increased since 1852, the Democrats led; but 
their total vote was about four hundred thousand 
behind the combined opposition. 

After this election the country, exhausted by 
months of excitement, relapsed into quiet. Kansas, 
under Geary's rule, ceased to bleed, and all were will- 
ing to rest and wait for further developments. The 
Democrats, triumphant with president and each 
House of Congress, felt that if Kansas could only be 
promptly dealt with their party might enter on a 
new and long tenure of power. The Republicans, 
disappointed at their defeat but inclined to feel that 
their young party had made as good a showing as 
could be hoped for in its first election, were ready to 
wait and see how Buchanan carried out his pledges. 
The south slowly settling to a normal condition, gave 
over secession plans for the time, and the last session 
of the thirty-fourth Congress, whose members at first 
wrangled to the point of violence, devoted itself to 
business, scarcely pausing to consider Kansas affairs. 
Politics were on the ebb after the flood-tide of the 
summer, and Pierce's stormy term closed with all 
parties under a sort of armistice. 



WHEN Buchanan assumed office the era of un- 
restrained commercial optimism, which had 
prevailed for a dozen years, began to show signs of 
coming to an end; and before the new president 
met his first Congress a financial storm broke out 
which did not completely clear away during his 
term. The expansion before 1857 was too great to 
last; the sense of the unbounded resources of the 
country and the unqualified rapidity with which 
they might be utilized had pushed the industrial 
and financial world into an excessive inflation of 
credit and a dangerous sinking of capital. 1 By 1857 
the amount of indebtedness incurred by railways, 
manufacturers, and promoters of all kinds to the 
banks of the country and to each other stood beyond 
the point where it could be absorbed by the public. 
The railroad mania resulted in the hasty construc- 
tion of hundreds of miles of track in the thinly 


1 Dunbar, Economic Essays, 269; cf. above, chap. v. For the 
panic of 1837, see Hart, Slavery and Abolition (Am. Nation, 
XVI.), chap. xx. 

1856] PANIC OF 1857 175 

settled west, whose earning power was found not to 
be such as to enable the corporations to meet the 
obligations incurred by the mortgage bonds so freely 
and recklessly sold. At the same time manufactur- 
ers incurred debt to extend their plants in anticipa- 
tion of an ever-increasing internal trade, depending 
on the railroads; and banks all over the country 
were loaning freely to them on long terms. 

The first signs of alarm appeared when the stock 
of the new railway systems began to decline in the 
winter of 185 6-1 85 7. In the summer, signs of dan- 
ger thickened, and by August it was evident to 
nearly all financiers that, without any one assignable 
cause, the public mind was undergoing that inde- 
scribable change from optimism to distrust which is 
the real origin of a panic. Banks all over the coun- 
try began to contract loans, a process which increased 
uneasiness; and, on August 24, the suspension of the 
Ohio Life Insurance and Trust Company, which did 
a large general banking business in the west and in 
New York, precipitated the crash. A sharp break in 
stocks took place, railroad securities dropping rapidly 
thirty or even fifty per cent, in a few weeks. 1 Then 
came failures on the stock-exchanges, followed by 
mercantile failures in September; and in October 
some of the leading railroads — the Erie, Reading, 
Illinois Central, and Michigan Central — went to the 
wall. The pressure upon the banks, struggling as 
they were to contract loans, became too severe to be 

1 Bankers' Mag., XII., 335 (October, 1857). 


endured, and on September 24 and 25 those of 
Philadelphia, Baltimore, and most of the western 
states suspended. 

The New York banks held out a little longer, but 
their turn came in October, after notes of railroads 
began to go to protest ; runs by depositors were soon 
started, weaker firms were unable to stand, and a 
general suspension was announced October 14. This 
action carried with it the suspension of specie pay- 
ments in New England, and for a time the country 
was plunged into the abysses of " general bank- 
ruptcy.' ' 1 Among the few banks which weathered 
the storm were the Chemical Bank of New York, the 
Indiana State Bank, the Kentucky banks, and four 
of the New Orleans banks, the results in the last 
cases being due to the careful legislation of these 
states in the years preceding the panic. 2 

The effect of the collapse of credit upon the in- 
dustries of the country was sudden and severe. 
Prices dropped a fourth to a third " in all domestic 
fabrics, in meat, provisions and general merchan- 
dise," while "speculative real estate" declined one- 
half in value. 3 Factories closed, throwing tens of 
thousands out of work, and such industries as the 
New England shoe manufacture and the Pennsyl- 
vania iron-works remained idle for months at a time. 

1 Hunt's Merchants 7 Mag., November, 1857, p. 582; Bankers' 
Mag., Novemoer, 1857, p. 411. 

2 McCulloch, Men and Events, 120-139. 

3 Hunt's Merchants' Mag., February, 1858, p. 195; Evans, 
Crisis of 1857, pp. 114-121, 

PANIC OF 1857 


In all, a total of six thousand firms failed, with 
liabilities estimated at about three hundred millions, 
with an eventual payment of probably a quarter to 
a half of the amount. 1 No less than fourteen rail- 
roads failed, and the volume of traffic upon all the 
lines in the north and west diminished sharply. 

The farmer was equally depressed with the man- 
ufacturer and financier, since the reopening of the 
Russian grain trade after the cessation of the 
Crimean War added to the effects of the panic in 
causing a lessening demand for bread-stuffs. The 
crops were scarcely moved in some localities, and 
the exports of grain diminished by one-half. In the 
last months of the year general distrust and depres- 
sion reigned, and the president, in his first message 
to Congress, December, 1857, summed up the situa- 
tion by saying: " Our country, in its monetary inter- 
ests, is at the present moment in a deplorable 
condition. In the midst of unsurpassed plenty, . . . 
in all the elements of national wealth, we find our 
manufactures suspended, our public works retarded, 
our private enterprises of different kinds abandoned, 
and thousands of useful laborers thrown out of em- 
ployment and reduced to want." 2 

The suspension of the banks did not last long, for 
by December, 1857, the New York and Boston banks 
felt able to resume specie payments, the Philadelphia 

1 Hunt's Merchants' Mag., February, 1858, p. 195; Evans, 
Crisis of 1857, pp. 122-137. 

2 Richardson, Messages and Papers, V., 436. 


and Baltimore banks followed in February, 1858, and 
by midsummer the period of prostration was at an 
end and the process of recovery started. During 1858 
and 1859 "hard times" prevailed, marked by liqui- 
dation of all sorts and by an almost complete cessa- 
tion in demand for speculative investments. Land 
purchases and mortgages declined seriously in value, 
factories were reluctant to start up, and prices in 
many commodities remained low. The writers of 
the day, such as Greeley, in the New York Tribune, 
represented that prices were " from 25 to 75 per cent, 
lower" ; and in some localities, and especially in cer- 
tain lines, such as land, this was true ; but the effects 
of the panic were not in reality so severe as people 
thought. Tables of prices, made out from a 'study 
of market quotations, do show a decline in 1858 and 
1859 in some important commodities, such as wheat 
and iron ; but it should be noticed that even in these 
the prices remained above the range previous to 
185 6- 1857; and in many other products, such as 
corn, hides, and wool, there was little effect after the 
months of suspension were over. The iron industry, 
undoubtedly, suffered severely; the production of 
pig-iron fell off one-fifth in 1858, and the state of 
Pennsylvania was considered "prostrate." 1 

While factories were idle and while, by an unfort- 
unate coincidence, crops were poor in the west, there 
was bitter complaint of lack of employment in the 
cities, giving rise in New York to working-men's 
1 Swank, Iron in All Ages, 376. 

PANIC OF 1857 


demonstrations of a semi-revolutionary character, 
demanding work or bread. These did not, however, 
lead to any actual conflicts. 1 The pictures drawn by 
observers were full of the depression which replaced 
the extravagant enthusiasm of 1857. "The general 
movement of the country," said one, "is still tow- 
ard liquidation and there has been therefore no 
general revival of trade. . . . How far the country 
can be relied upon for payment in full for past or 
present indebtedness is a question not easily solved. 
Those who thought themselves rich with wheat at 
$2 a bushel will find their assets miserably shrunken 
with wheat at 75 c. for the same measure." 2 The 
condition of the west was summed up by Greeley 
in dark colors. "Railroads partly constructed and 
there stopped for want of means; blocks of build- 
ings ditto ; counties and cities involved by the issue 
of railroad bonds and practically insolvent; indi- 
viduals striving to stave off the satisfaction of debts, 
obligations, judgments, executions — such is the all 
but universal condition." 3 

To this gloomy picture in the northern and western 
states there stood forth a striking contrast in the 
continued prosperity of the "cotton states." Bank 
failures and suspensions occurred among them, it is 
true, since the connection of southern with northern 

1 Dunbar, Economic Essays, 290; Rhodes, United States, III., 
49. 2 Hunt's Merchants' Mag., January, 1858, p. 71. 

3 N. Y. Tribune, December 25, 1858, in Rhodes, United States, 
HI., 55. 


banking was too intimate to permit of escape; but 
the great staple industry of the south, the cotton 
production, upon which prosperity rested, was al- 
most undisturbed by the panic. 1 The crops of 1856 
and 1857 were large and that of 1858 was up to the 
average, the price of cotton held firm, exports in- 
creased, and while the whole north waited in sullen 
stagnation to recover courage, the southern planters 
felt a confidence in their present strength and future 
prosperity which passed all bounds. 

"The wealth of the South," said De Bow's Review, 
"is permanent and real, that of the North fugitive 
and fictitious. Events now transpiring are exposing 
the fiction as humbug after humbug explodes." 3 
The price of negroes, a good index of commercial 
confidence, as indicating a demand for capital, rose 
in these years to unheard - of figures, good field 
hands bringing in places from fifteen hundred to 
two thousand dollars. The contrast between the 
two sections confirmed the belief of southern lead- 
ers in the world supremacy of cotton. "Cotton is 
king," exulted Hammond, of South Carolina, in the 
Senate. " Who can doubt it, that has looked upon 
recent events? When the abuse of credit had an- 
nihilated confidence, . . . when you came to a dead- 
lock and revolutions were threatened, what brought 
you up ? Fortunately for you it was the commence- 
ment of the cotton season and we have poured in 

1 Hammond, Cotton Industry, I., App. i. 

2 De Bow's Review, XXIII., 592 (December, 1857). 

1859] PANIC OF 1857 181 

upon you one million six hundred thousand bales 
of cotton just at the crisis to save you." 1 A still 
more exalted enthusiast called the cotton crop "The 
gravitating power that keeps the civilized world 
in its proper orbit as it whirls through the grand 
cycles of its existence." 2 

During this panic the financial situation of the 
federal government depended to a great extent upon 
the disturbances produced in foreign trade, since at 
that time about nine-tenths of the revenue was de- 
rived from the tariff. 3 As soon as the crash came, 
the demand for imports fell off sharply, and for the 
year 1858 they amounted to little more than two- 
thirds of what they had been in 1857. In 1859 they 
increased again, but still did not reach the figures of 
1857. Although exports fell off, mainly in grain and 
tobacco, their decline was so much less than that of 
imports that in 1858, for the first time in years, there 
was an international balance in favor of the United 
States. In the next two years the flow of imports 
once more exceeded exports, and the normal relation 
of the United States to the outside world as a gold- 
producing nation was established, showing that the 
effects of the loss of confidence in 1857 had worn 
off. 4 

Meanwhile the government revenue had been 

1 Cong. Globe, 35 Cong., 1 Sess., 961. 
1 Charleston Mercury, July 10, 1857. 

' Senate Exec. Docs., 37 Cong., 2 Sess., No. 2, p. 228; Dewey, 
Financial Hist, of the U. S., 264. 
4 Dunbar, Economic Essays, 296. 


affected. The receipts from customs dropped one- 
third in 1858, and the surplus, habitual before the 
tariff reduction of 1857, was changed into a deficit 
of twenty million dollars. In 1859 and i860 this 
condition continued until the accumulated deficits 
amounted to over fifty millions, a result due in part, 
no doubt, to the lower rates of the tariff of 1857, but 
primarily to the decline in imports. The policy of 
Secretary Cobb, to whom it fell to meet the panic, 
was devoid of originality and offers little of interest. 
Cobb was an intelligent man, and he found the treas- 
ury department in such good condition after Guth- 
rie's administration that not even the rotation of 
office-holders was enough to prevent its easy opera- 
tion. Cobb, however, was not primarily a financier, 
but a politician, and a southern one at that, and his 
relations with the financial world were neither close 
nor cordial. Further, the majorities in each House 
of Congress were northern in business and financial 
feeling, and stood in no relations of confidence with 
the administration or with Cobb himself. Conse- 
quently the action of the government was unimpor- 
tant and rather ineffective. 

When the panic began, Cobb tried to unlock some 
of the gold in the sub-treasuries by bond purchases 
to the extent of several millions, but without any 
particular result except to transfer some specie to 
the banks and to force government securities up a 
few points in the market. 1 When Congress met, the 

1 Kinley, Independent Treasury, 176. 

i860] PANIC OF 1857 183 

deficit was visible and Cobb was forced, under au- 
thorization of an act dated December 23, 1857, to 
resort to the issue of treasury notes. Later in the 
same session, as the deficit grew steadily larger, 
Congress authorized a loan of twenty millions, in 
response to a report of Cobb and a message of Bu- 
chanan ; and a year later it authorized the reissue of 
treasury notes. 1 This comprises the entire policy of 
the government. No attempt was made to reduce 
expenses, nor were any new sources of revenue pro- 
vided ; and the debt steadily increased from under 
twenty-nine millions in 1857 to nearly sixty-five 
millions in i860. This was not, however, considered 
as in any degree impairing the government credit, 
which stood untouched during the panic, the sub- 
treasuries maintaining specie payments through the 
months of bank suspension, and government bonds 
commanding a considerable premium w T hen railway 
securities were prostrate and state bonds were at a 
considerable discount. It was not until after i860, 
when political dangers thickened, that confidence in 
government solvency was shaken. 

In these years appeared a significant forerunner 
of later economic changes in the shape of a revival 
of protectionist sentiment in Pennsylvania under 
the stress of hard times. Some influential papers, 
notably the New York Tribune under Greeley, de- 
clared that the panic was a result, direct or indirect, 
of the tariff of 1846, and urged, unremittingly, a 
1 Dunbar, Laws Relating to Currency, 149, 151. 




return to protective duties. 1 Buchanan was so far 
influenced by the feeling of his state as to urge, in 
his message of December, 1858, an increase in the 
tariff for the purpose of incidental protection as well 
as for increased revenue, recommending in addition 
a change to specific duties. 2 Cobb was ready to 
advocate a return to the rates of 1846, but although 
an attempt was made at the end of the session to 
introduce a tariff bill, a two-thirds vote, necessary 
under the rules, could not be obtained. In Decem- 
ber, 1859, Buchanan again asked for an increase in 
import duties, and again an attempt was made to 
meet the situation by the introduction, in April, 
i860, of the so-called Morrill tariff. After a brief 
consideration, this bill, which was not much more 
protective than the tariff of 1846, passed the House 
on May 10 by 105 to 64. The Senate, however, 
postponed its consideration, influenced by the strong 
southern feeling against tariffs and the Democratic 
party tradition, now firmly implanted. 3 

The slight interest felt in the subject by most 
northern members was sufficient to prevent any 
action by Congress to provide additional revenue 
during Buchanan's term ; and the decade ended with 
an empty treasury, an increasing debt, and much dis- 
comfort in the government departments. Had Con- 
gress shown any desire to reduce the expenditures it 

1 Stan wood, Tariff Controversies, II., 116. 

2 Richardson, Messages and Papers, V., 522. 

3 Stanwood, Tariff Controversies, II., 99. 

i860] PANIC OF 1857 185 

would not have been difficult to relieve the embar- 
rassment, but the appropriations continued undi- 
minished and the whole scale of government expendi- 
tures remained at the point reached in the " flush 
times" immediately preceding the panic. Although 
Buchanan and Cobb in hesitating tones suggested 
retrenchment, no notice was taken ; and the govern- 
ment remained unable to cover running expenses 
without repeated issues of bonds and treasury notes. 1 
By i860, although the federal treasury still felt 
the effects of the crisis, the country as a whole had 
begun to recover its confidence and prosperity. 
Manufactures started up again, railroads operated 
with greater ease, and capital again began to be 
loaned with freedom. By the time of the census of 
i860, even the production of iron, which was the 
worst sufferer in public estimation, had so far re- 
covered as to surpass any previous figures. Railway 
stock, which had been at a low level in the market, 
rose on the average by a third or more ; and railway 
construction, which had been reduced one-third in 
1858, now increased to the average rate of the earlier 
years of the decade, until by i860 there were no less 
than 30,592 miles of track laid down, as compared 
with 8585 in 1850. The superior prosperity of the 
southern states is indicated by the fact that con- 
struction there was not affected by the panic, but 
went on at a higher rate than before. In these years 
the southern connections between the Atlantic sea- 
1 Buchanan, Buchanan's Administration, 231. 


board and the interior were completed, the system 
of roads from Virginia and South Carolina reaching 
Memphis on the Mississippi through Chattanooga in 
1858 and 1859. Still the south remained far behind 
the north as a whole, having less than a third of the 
total railway mileage. 1 

The year 1858 was signalized by the partial suc- 
cess of an invention which was to revolutionize 
modern commerce and modern diplomacy. On Au- 
gust 5, 1858, the third attempt to lay an electric 
telegraph across the Atlantic was successfully car- 
ried through. Although the excitement and con- 
gratulation over this event, " exceeding the capacity 
of language," was suddenly cut short by the break- 
down of the cable on September 1, the fact that four 
hundred messages had meanwhile been sent encour- 
aged Cyrus W. Field, the promoter of this enterprise, 
to renew his efforts until complete success was at- 
tained eight years later. 2 

The reverse side of this tremendous extension of 
railways into the interior and the expansion of in- 
ternal trade, is to be seen in the fact that the Ameri- 
can merchant marine came in these years to a stand- 
still. After 1856 the disorganization of British com- 
merce due to the Crimean War was at an end, and 
British competition, especially in the import trade, 
was much more vigorous. American tonnage, while 
continuing to be the greatest in the world, ceased to 

1 Eighth Census of the U. S., Miscellaneous Statistics, 323. 

2 Field, The Atlantic Telegraph, 106-261. 

i860] PANIC OF 1857 187 

increase in amount and began to show the effects of 
the change from wood to iron. The Collins line of 
steamers, which up to 1856 maintained a spirited 
rivalry with the Cunard line for the Atlantic passen- 
ger trade, was ruined by the shipwrecks of the Arctic 
in 1854 and the Pacific in 1856; the congressional 
subsidy was withdrawn in that year, and in 1858 the 
remaining vessels were sold. 1 The future loss of the 
carrying-trade, as a result of the turning of capital 
• and invention into the more profitable fields of in- 
ternal development, was foreshadowed. 

The return of prosperity was indicated by the 
revival of banking. Although the long credits com- 
mon before the panic were curtailed, the extension of 
loans was resumed and new charters taken out, until 
by i860 there were nearly sixteen hundred banks 
with loans of $692,000,000 as against $648,000,000 in 
1857, and a circulation of $207,000,000 as against 
$215,000,000 in 1857. 2 Surveying the country as a 
whole, it may be said that the census of i860 found 
all regions except the northwest, where the recovery 
was less complete, in substantially the same situation 
as in the years before the panic. 

The economic changes of the decade were reflected 
in alterations of population both in distribution and 
density. The increase in numbers since 1850 was at 
about the same rate as in preceding decades, the 

1 Bates, American Marine, 146 et seq.; Wells, Our Merchant 
Marine, 18-25, 4^-57; Rhodes, United States, III., 9-12. 

2 Dunbar, Economic Essays, 314 et seq. 


total population growing from twenty-three millions 
to thirty-one and a half, but the gain was very un- 
equally distributed. The rural states in New Eng- 
land and the older slave states gained little or 
nothing, but the manufacturing states, from Massa- 
chusetts to Pennsylvania, increased a fourth, the 
cotton states nearly a third, and the grain-growing 
interior more than two-thirds, showing how the new 
railroads had stimulated western settlement. 

The increase of urban population, a feature of 
modern industrialism which had already appeared 
in the earlier censuses, continued until the propor- 
tion of urban population was now almost exactly 
one-sixth of the whole. 1 All cities did not profit 
equally by this increase : the lake cities, at the junc- 
tion of water and rail transportation, made the first 
great strides, and Chicago, Buffalo, Cleveland, De- 
troit, and Milwaukee sprang ahead of the river cities 
— Pittsburg, Cincinnati, Louisville, and St. Louis, 
which had hitherto been foremost in the west. On 
the seaboard, New York, Brooklyn, and Philadelphia 
swelled prodigiously, and by i860 the modern great 
city had come into being all over the north. 

This increase in population, it should be observed, 
was due in part to an immigration such as the coun- 
try had never experienced before. The Irish influx 
which began after the famine in the preceding dec- 
ade, continued undiminished, settling in great num- 
bers in the eastern cities, furnishing cheap labor for 

1 Weber, Growth of Cities, 25. 

i860] PANIC OF 1857 189 

railway construction, and introducing new social 
elements. But still more striking was the inflow 
from Germany, which began after the revolutions 
of 1848 and sent hundreds of thousands to settle in 
the northern states, the west as well as the east. 
By i860 the United States had not only revolution- 
ized its system of internal transportation and begun 
the era of great internal industrial expansion, as 
well as the epoch of grain-raising for the world mar- 
ket, but had opened the continent to the easy settle- 
ment of European immigrants, differing in race, 
speech, social habits, and economic ideals, and des- 
tined profoundly to affect the future development 
of the country. 




IN his inaugural address, President Buchanan, after 
referring to the dispute over the legal power of 
the inhabitants of a territory to prohibit slavery, 
added, "This is, happily, a matter of but little prac- 
tical importance. Besides, it is a judicial question, 
which legitimately belongs to the Supreme Court of 
the United States, before whom it is now pending, 
and will, it is understood, be speedily and finally set- 
tled. To their decision, in common with all good citi- 
zens, I shall cheerfully submit, whatever this may 
be. " 1 Two days later the supreme court delivered the 
decision to which Buchanan referred, and in so doing 
stepped suddenly into the very midst of the political 
controversy, by announcing that Congress had no 
power to prohibit slavery in any territory ; and that 
the only authority touching slavery conferred upon 
Congress by the Constitution was " the power coupled 
with the duty of guarding and protecting the owner 

1 Richardson, Messages and Papers, V., 431. 


in his rights." The federal judiciary had hitherto 
borne no part in the territorial controversy, and this 
sudden plunge into the heart of the problem was due 
only to a sort of revolution within the court itself, 
a revolution whose significance can be fully grasped 
only by comprehending the policy of the supreme 
court upon similar matters and upon constitutional 
interpretation in general immediately prior to the 

Ever since the reconstruction of the supreme 
court, in the days of Jackson and Van Buren, 1 the 
new Democratic judges had been disposed to restrict 
its activity to purely legal matters, avoiding any 
such constructive policy as that carried out by Mar- 
shall in the famous decisions of the last half of his 
career. 2 In the ten years from 1850 to i860, opin- 
ions were delivered in nearly a thousand cases, and 
the time of the court was absorbed in litigation aris- 
ing from the commercial expansion of the country. 
Public land cases from the newer states and the terri- 
tories grew to be a heavy burden, especially those 
from California, where titles were in great confusion; 
admiralty cases from sea -coast, lake, and river traffic 
increased in number, and a rapidly growing mass of 
inter-state cases came up from the circuits and the 
state courts. Among the important decisions of 

1 Cf . MacDonald, Jacksonian Democracy {Am. Nation, XV.), 
chap. xiv. 

2 Cf . Babcock, Am. Nationality {Am. Nation, XIII.), chap, 



these years were those in patent suits, concerning 
the Morse electric telegraph, the McCormick reaper, 
and the Goodyear rubber process. In all directions 
the court was called upon to play its part in the new 
era of industrial competition. 1 

Whenever the court was obliged to face questions 
involving constitutional construction, the Jackso- 
nian Democracy of most of the judges prevented 
any firm and consistent policy. While the general 
lines of federal authority were too firmly established 
by Marshall to be disturbed, the strong reverence of 
most of the judges for state - rights led them to 
favor the authority of the states at the expense of 
federal supremacy, wherever it was possible without 
a direct reversal of Marshall's decisions. Of the nine 
judges who took part in important constitutional 
cases in this period, only three — McLean, of Ohio, 
Wayne, of Georgia, and Curtis, of Massachusetts — 
were federalist in tendency, and no one of these held 
to his position with entire consistency. Taney, of 
Maryland, the aged chief -justice, was uncertain in 
his attitude, at times maintaining with vigor a po- 
sition identical with Marshall's, and at other times 
adopting the full state - rights phraseology. The 
remaining five — Nelson, of New York, Catron, of 
Tennessee, Grier, of Pennsylvania, Campbell, of Ala- 
bama, and Daniel, of Virginia — were almost invaria- 
bly found using the state-rights arguments, Daniel 
going so far as to employ habitually the political con- 

1 Carson, Supreme Court, II., 354-360. 


ceptions of Calhoun. It was in the court an era of 
constitutional reaction. 1 

In but one direction was federal jurisdiction sub- 
stantially strengthened in this period, and that was 
in a field where state -rights views presented ob- 
vious practical difficulties. In the cases of the 
Propeller Genesee Chief (1852) and the Wheeling 
Bridge (1856) the court extended the authority of 
Congress and the jurisdiction of the federal courts 
over the Great Lakes and the Ohio River, declaring 
both to be " navigable waters of the United States." 
The English precedent of a merely tide-water juris- 
diction was abandoned as inapplicable to American 
conditions, as was stated in the Genesee Chief 
case by Taney, in an opinion which for clearness, 
force, and breadth was worthy of Marshall himself. 
Only the unbending Daniel dissented on his usual 
strict -constructionist grounds. 2 In the Wheeling 
Bridge case, however, when the court, at the in- 
stance of the state of Pennsylvania, ordered a 
bridge chartered by Virginia to be altered to con- 
form to the necessities of Ohio River traffic, Taney 
joined Daniel in dissenting, largely on the ground 
that the sovereign authority of Virginia was not open 
to question. But in this case even Catron and Nel- 
son concurred with the opinion of McLean for the 
court. 8 It was so clearly a matter of public neces- 

1 Carson, Supreme Court, II., 339-354. 

2 12 Howard, 443; Tyler, Taney, 302. 

8 13 Howard, 518; Gorham, Stanton, I., 38, 



sity that federal jurisdiction should be complete over 
the interior waterways that Democratic scruples 
lost their force. 

In other regions where federal and state authority 
clashed, the court spoke in hesitating tones ; dissent- 
ing opinions were habitual, and few decisions upon 
constitutional points were made by a united bench. 
In the sphere where Marshall, by the Dartmouth 
College case, had sharply restricted state power, no 
less than a score of decisions were rendered by which 
the prohibition upon state interference with con- 
tracts was less rigidly construed. Only with diffi- 
culty and by a divided court were any decisions 
attained invalidating state laws on this ground. In 
185 1 an Arkansas law, refusing further reception to 
bills of a defunct state bank, was held to be a viola- 
tion of a contract in the original bank charter ; and 
three years later this decision was reaffirmed in a 
similar case. But four of the state -rights judges 
dissented the first time and three the second. 1 
When Ohio tried, at first by legislation and then 
by a new state constitution, to impose a tax 
upon banks greater than that provided for in 
the original banking act of 1845, the court in 
two cases, over the dissent of Catron, Daniel, and 
Campbell, held these to be impairments of a con- 
tract and invalid ; but in a third case Taney 
and Grier shifted their ground, joined the three 

1 Woodruff vs. Trapnall, 10 Howard, 190; Curran vs. Ark., 

15 Howard, 304. 


state - rights advocates, and secured a different 
result. 1 

In the field of federal control over commerce, the 
doctrines of Marshall were generally upheld, as in the 
earlier "Passenger Cases" (1848) ; but in Cooley vs. 
the Port Wardens (1852) the court held that a law 
of Pennsylvania, forcing the payment, if a vessel de- 
clined a pilot, of one-half of the pilotage fee to the 
Society for the Relief of Distressed and Decayed 
Pilots, was not a regulation of commerce and hence 
was valid. The majority in this case was composed 
of the state-rights group with the chief -justice, and, 
oddly enough, the Whig Curtis, who himself delivered 
the opinion. Wayne and McLean dissented on the 
grounds of the reasoning in Marshall's fundamental 
opinion in Gibbons vs. Ogden. 2 These decisions il- 
lustrate the disconnected attitude of the court upon 
constitutional questions and its lack of controlling 

The uncertainty of the court in constitutional 
matters did not prevent it from standing higher in 
public estimation than ever before. To most Ameri- 
cans it appeared the type of conservatism, imparti- 
ality, and safety. The learning, mental vigor, and 
thoroughness of its members had won the highest 

1 State Bank vs. Knoop, 16 Howard, 369; Dodge vs. Woolsey, 
18 Howard, 331; Ohio Life Ins. Co. vs. Debolt, 16 Howard, 

3 Cooley vs. Port Wardens, 12 Howard, 299; Curtis, Curtis, 
I., 168. 



respect of the legal profession and the public. 1 It 
seemed to be the one branch of the federal govern- 
ment wholly untouched by the sectional controversy, 
more especially since in cases involving slavery it 
had shown consistent caution. In the two best- 
known cases, those of Prigg in 1842, and Van Zandt 
in 1847, the court had held the fugitive-slave law of 
1793 to be a constitutional enactment based upon 
the power implied in the clause of the Constitution 
prescribing the return of fugitives from service ; but 
there was nothing in these decisions of a pro-slavery 
or anti-slavery character. They were purely legal 
arguments, simply applying the reasoning customary 
since Marshall's day to the interpretation of a clause 
of the Constitution. In the Prigg case, the court 
further held a state law invalid which conflicted with 
the federal statute, by assuming to punish kidnap- 
ping. 2 During the struggle over slavery in the ter- 
ritories, repeated suggestions were made that the 
legality of territorial slavery should be left to the 
supreme court, and the New Mexico act of 1850 
contained a provision that cases involving the title 
to slaves and those involving the question of per- 
sonal freedom were to be brought directly to it. 3 
Still, nothing had yet come to test its temper, and 

1 Carson, Supreme Court, II., 66; Biddle, "Constitutional De- 
velopment as Influenced by Taney," in Rogers, etc., Constitu- 
tional History, 125-127, 195. 

2 Prigg vs. Pennsylvania, 16 Peters, 539; Jones vs. Van Zandt, 
5 Howard, 215; Hart, Slavery and Abolition {Am. Nation, XVI.) , 
chap. xix. 3 U . S. Statutes at Large, IX., 450, 455. 


nothing but the known state -rights tendencies of 
six of the judges and the fact that five of the nine 
were from slave states seemed to point to any but 
cautious action when, in 1855, the suit of Dred 
Scott vs. Sandford was brought before it on appeal 
from one of the circuit courts. 1 

The facts in the case were simple, and admitted 
of an easy decision without touching upon any vital 
points. Scott, a slave, had been taken by his mas- 
ter, an army surgeon, to places in Illinois where 
slavery was prohibited by the Northwest Ordinance 
and by the state constitution, and to a post in the 
northern part of Louisiana territory where slavery 
was excluded by the Missouri Compromise of 1820. 
Scott returned with his master to Missouri without 
protest, but after several years brought suit for his 
freedom in the state courts against his master's 
widow, on the ground of residence in free territory, 
supported, in fact, by Missourians to make a test case. 
In 1852 the Missouri supreme court decided against 
him, but meanwhile he had come into the possession 
of the executor of his former owner, Sandford, of New 
York, against whom he brought suit in the federal 
circuit court as a citizen of another state. In the 
federal court, Sandford raised a preliminary objec- 
tion that Scott, as a negro descended from slaves, 
could not possibly be a citizen and so could not sue. 
This the court overruled, but then went on to hold 
that in such cases of personal freedom the federal 

1 Dred Scott vs. Sandford, 19 Howard 393. 


practice was to follow the decision of the highest 
state court, and hence, since the Missouri court had 
decided against Scott, the circuit court must so 

When the case came before the federal supreme 
court, the only point to be adjudicated was the 
decision of the circuit court to follow the Missouri 
court, and the way seemed to be clearly marked out 
by the case of Strader vs. Graham (1851), where 
precisely this rule of following state decisions had 
been laid down. 1 Upon all the principles of legal 
caution and court practice the duty laid upon the 
supreme court was an unimportant one. When the 
case was first argued, this view prevailed with the 
majority of the judges ; but since Taney was in doubt 
as to whether the plea regarding Scott's citizenship 
might not properly come before them, a second argu- 
ment was ordered on that question for December, 
1 85 6. 2 After the second argument, it still appeared 
that the majority held to the plain path marked 
out by precedent, and Nelson, of New York, a rigid 
state-rights judge, was instructed to write an opin- 
ion sustaining the decision of the circuit court. 

At this point a new influence suddenly appeared. 
Judge Wayne, of Georgia, was impressed after the 
recent victory of the Democratic party in the presi- 
dential election with the idea that the time was ripe 
for the supreme court to end the slavery controversy 

1 10 Howard, 82. 

2 Curtis, Curtis, L, 180 ; J. A. Campbell, in 20 Wallace, p. ix. 


once for all, and he urged the court to make the pend- 
ing Dred Scott case the opportunity for a decision 
which should take the whole subject of regulating 
slavery out of the power of the federal government. 1 
His animated arguments with his colleagues were 
undoubtedly made effective by the sense of the crisis 
through which the country had just passed, and in 
the end he prevailed upon the southern justices and 
Grier, of Pennsylvania. A motion was then adopted 
that Chief-Justice Taney should write an opinion 
"upon all questions involved," but the moment the 
court departed from the plain road marked out by 
precedent there was no possibility of unanimity. 
When Taney read his opinion "upon all questions 
involved," one judge only — Wayne — concurred with 
him, five others concurred separately in partial and 
irregular fashion, and two dissented point-blank. 

Upon the original issue of Dred Scott's freedom 
the decision of the court stood, as it had been from 
the start, adverse, only Curtis and McLean dissent- 
ing. Taney's opinion, assigning reasons for the de- 
cision which stood formally as the opinion of the 
court, was, however, not so much a judicial state- 
ment as an elaborate essay upon the history of 

j slavery under the Constitution, and a justification 
of the most radical southern positions regarding 
the institution. No negro, the chief -justice said, 
could possibly be a citizen in the constitutional 

1 1 sense, whatever action a state might take with re- 

1 Curtis, Curtis, I., 206, 234-242; Tyler, Taney, 382-388. 

VOL, XVIII. — 14 


gard to him, for the Constitution was not intended 
to apply to any but the white race. The negroes, he 
concluded, in words which became inseparably at- 
tached to his name, were considered at the time of 
the adoption of the Constitution, " so far inferior that 
they had no rights which the white man was bound 
to respect." 1 Hence Dred Scott could not sue in 
the United States court as a citizen of Missouri. 

At this point, having denied the right of the 
plaintiff to sue, Taney was bound in logic to dis- 
miss the case, but instead of so doing he took up the 
question of Scott's freedom, as affected by residence 
in Louisiana territory and in Illinois. The right of 
property in slaves, he argued, was specifically men- 
tioned and recognized in the Constitution ; no power 
over it was given to Congress ; the United States held 
territories simply as "representative and trustee' ' 
for the states, and could make no discrimination be- 
tween citizens of the several states in respect to 
property rights in them. Hence, he concluded, a pro- 
hibition of slavery in the territories was invalid, the 
Missouri Compromise had been unconstitutional, and 
Scott could not acquire freedom because of tempo- 
rary residence in such territory. Finally, as to the 
effect of residence in Illinois, Taney turned to the 
decision of the Missouri court, which he held to be 
decisive against any claim to freedom on that ground. 
Hence, from all points of view, Scott had not proved 
a right to his freedom. 2 

1 19 Howard, 407. 2 Tyler, Taney, 380-391. 


Had this opinion, with all its glaring inconsisten- 
cies, stood as that of a united court, its length, learn- 
ing, and authority would have made it impressive, 
but it was almost as much damaged as supported by 
the variety in the concurring opinions. In the first 
place, Taney's main position, that of the impossibility 
of citizenship for a negro descended from slaves, was 
concurred in by only two judges, while one dissented 
and the other five expressly declined to consider the 
point. Then as to reaffirming the decision of the 
circuit court that the Missouri decision must be fol- 
lowed, one judge — Nelson — rested his whole opinion 
upon it, and five others, including Taney himself, 
concurred. But if this position were valid, there 
was no necessity for any consideration of the Mis- 
souri Compromise ; for if Scott was not freed by the 
Illinois prohibition, which was undoubtedly consti- 
tutional, then the prohibition in the Louisiana terri- 
tory, whether constitutional or not, could not affect 
his status. 1 

Nevertheless, Taney received the concurrence of five 
other judges in declaring the Missouri Compromise 
to have been illegal and void, although such an 
opinion was an obiter dictum, dragged into the case. 
Justice Catron, in his desire to stand with the major- 
ity, took the extraordinary ground that, although 
there was no question of the power of Congress over 
the territories, the third article of the treaty of 1803, 
which guaranteed the inhabitants of Louisiana their 

1 Gray and Lowell, Legal Review, 25. 



rights, stood protected by the Constitution and could 
not be repealed. Hence, the Missouri Compromise 
was invalid, not because of any special sanctity of 
slave property, but because it conflicted with a 
treaty, a position wholly foreign to American consti- 
tutional law. 1 The political character of the whole 
performance was stamped upon it in the phraseol- 
ogy of the opinions as well as in the logical inco- 
herence and superfluousness of the arguments, how- 
ever able most of the individual opinions were if 
taken singly. 

Of the two dissenting opinions, McLean's was vig- 
orous in language and argument, but Curtis 's was 
undeniably superior and has gained a fame seldom 
acquired by dissenting views. He took up categori- 
cally, and, by a complete, logical argument, refuted 
every one of the chief -justice's points. He began by 
disproving on historical grounds the assertion that 
no negro could be a citizen ; hence Dred Scott could 
not legally be debarred from bringing suit on the 
mere ground of color. In continuing, he held that 
the Missouri decision was not binding upon the su- 
preme court, and that a slave did gain a right to free- 
dom by residence in a region where slavery was pro- 
hibited. The contention that the United States had 
no power to exclude slavery from a territory, Curtis 
showed to be contrary to the uniform practice of the 
government since 1789, and a practical reversal of 
several fundamental decisions of the court concern- 

1 19 Howard, 527. 


ing the powers of Congress over territories. He held, 
therefore, that the Missouri Compromise had been 
constitutional up to its repeal in 1854, and that Scott 
ought to be declared free because of his residence in 
the territory to which it referred. 1 

As an exposition of the Websterian or Federalist 
conception of the nature of the government and the 
powers of Congress, this dissenting opinion was a 
masterpiece. It overthrew the labored arguments 
of Taney, and showed the majority to be innova- 
tors and practical revolutionists. Curtis plainly said 
that, in his eyes, the decision was worthless. " On so 
grave a subject as this," he said, "I feel obliged to 
say that in my opinion such an exertion of judicial 
power transcends the limits of the authority of the 
court, as described by repeated decisions. ... I do 
not consider it to be within the scope of the judicial 
power of the court to pass upon any question respect- 
ing the plaintiff's citizenship in Missouri save that 
raised by the plea to the jurisdiction, and I do not 
hold an opinion of this court, or of any court, bind- 
ing when expressed on a question not legitimately 
before it." 2 The only point where Curtis's argu- 
ment failed to overthrow the majority opinions was 
his denial of the binding force of the Missouri deci- 
sion upon the United States courts. The original 
decision of the court, as expressed in Nelson's opin- 
ion, agreed in this respect with the usual practice of 
the supreme court in following state precedents, and 

1 19 Howard, 564-633. 2 Ibid., 589. 


was a sufficient — in fact, the only sufficient — ground 
for the decision. 

The effect of this decision was weakened both by 
the patent and almost avowed purpose to settle a 
political question as well as by the intrinsic disagree- 
ments and inconsistencies of the judges. Lawyers 
were quick to expose the extra-legal character of 
much of Taney's opinion and to doubt the binding 
character of anything but the bare decision itself. 
Yet, after all judicial, legal, and logical criticisms 
were made, the fact remained that a two -thirds 
majority of the judges was on record as hold- 
ing the extreme southern position regarding the 
power of Congress over the territories. It seemed 
to be a positive intervention on behalf of slavery, 
and as such it was welcomed by southern leaders, 
writers, and political agitators, in a chorus of praise 
which showed how substantial they thought their 
gain. "The nation has achieved a triumph," said 
the Enquirer, "sectionalism has been rebuked and 
abolitionism has been staggered and stunned. An- 
other supporting pillar has been added to our insti- 
tutions." 1 

At the north the impression was universal that 
the "slave power" had gained another victory at 
the expense of legal impartiality and honor. Al- 
though the decision had been foreshadowed before 
Buchanan's inauguration, it came as a surprise and 
irritation, and provoked a storm of criticism. 4 'Alas, 

1 Richmond Enquirer, March u, 1857. 


that the character of the Supreme Court of the Unit- 
ed States as an impartial judicial body has gone!" 
cried a writer in the New York Tribune. "It has 
abdicated its just functions and descended into the 
political mire. It has sullied the ermine; it has 
draggled and polluted its garments in the filth of 
pro-slavery politics !" 1 " The majority of the court," 
said the Springfield Republican, "rushed needlessly 
to the conclusions, and are justly open to the suspi- 
cion of being induced to pronounce them by partisan 
or sectional influences. . . . The people are the court 
of last resort in this country. They will discuss 
and review the action of the Supreme Court, and if 
it presents itself as a practical question will vote 
against it." 2 

The Republicans, declining to bow to a decision 
which would cut the ground from under their feet, 
denounced the Dred Scott doctrines as unworthy of 
obedience, and reasserted their purpose to oppose the 
extension of slavery into the territories. The radi- 
cals among them threatened to override or recon- 
struct the court. Seward, in the Senate, exclaimed, 
defiantly, "The Supreme Court of the United States 
attempts to command the people of the United 
States to accept the principle that one man can own 
other men; and that they must guarantee the in- 

1 Pike, First Blows of the Civil War, 368. 

2 Springfield Republican, March 11, 1857; Merriam, Bowles, I., 
222; extracts from various authors, in Hart, Am. Hist, told by 
Contemporaries, IV., §§ 41-43. 


violability of that false and pernicious property. 
The people of the United States never can, and they 
never will, accept principles so unconstitutional and 
abhorrent. . . . We shall reorganize the Court, and 
thus reform its political sentiments and practices, 
and bring them into harmony with the Constitution 
and the laws of nature." 1 

Many believed that it was part of a plot concocted 
between Douglas, Pierce, Taney, and Buchanan, or, 
as Lincoln expressed it, "When we see a lot of 
framed timbers, different portions of which we know 
to have been gotten out at different times and places 
and by different workmen — Stephen, Franklin, 
Roger and James, for instance — and when we see 
these timbers joined together and see that they ex- 
actly make the frame of a house, ... in such a case, 
we find it impossible not to believe that Stephen and 
Franklin and Roger and James all understood one 
another from the beginning, and all worked upon a 
common plan or draft, drawn up before the first blow 
was struck." 2 This charge enraged Taney and Bu- 
chanan, and was, in fact, a mere assumption, unsup- 
ported by any other evidence than the reference by 
Buchanan, in his inaugural, to the approaching de- 

Within the next three years the court was called 
upon to give decisions in two other cases involving 
slavery; and each time, although its action was in 

1 Cong. Globe, 35 Cong., 1 Sess., 943. 

2 Lincoln and Douglas Debates, 3; Tyler, Taney, 374. 



reality conservative, it appeared to the suspicious 
north to be tinged with pro-slavery bias. In Able- 
man vs. Booth (1859), a case where the Wisconsin 
supreme court interfered in behalf of a person guilty 
of aiding a fugitive slave to escape from the custody 
of federal officials, on the ground that the fugitive- 
slave law, which he had violated, was unconstitu- 
tional, Taney, in a severe opinion, pronounced the 
action of the Wisconsin court to be revolutionary 
and the fugitive-slave law to be perfectly valid. 1 
In 1 86 1 the court was asked to issue a mandamus to 
compel the governor of Ohio to deliver to the Ken- 
tucky authorities a man charged with aiding a slave 
to escape. Taney's opinion stated strongly the duty 
of the governor of Ohio to deliver the criminal, but 
admitted the impotence of the supreme court to 
compel him to act. "When the Constitution was 
framed," said Taney, "and when this law was passed 
it was confidently believed that a sense of justice and 
of mutual interest would insure the faithful execu- 
tion of this constitutional provision by the executive 
of every state. . . . But if the Governor of Ohio re- 
fuses to discharge this duty, there is no power dele- 
gated to the general government ... to use any 
coercive means to compel him." 2 

The words of the aged chief -justice fittingly closed 
an epoch in the history of the supreme court. The 
time had come when justice and mutual interest 

1 2 1 Howard, 506. 

2 Kentucky vs. Dennison, 24 Howard, 66, 109. 


were no longer adequate to settle sectional disputes. 
The intervention of the court in the slavery contro- 
versy proved utterly futile, for the differences be- 
tween north and south were too deep-seated to be 
affected by a mere court decision. The only results 
of the Dred Scott case was to damage the prestige of 
the court in the north and to stimulate a sectional 
hostility which threatened to recoil upon the heads 
of the judges themselves. 



IN the opening year of Buchanan's administra- 
tion political prospects were brighter for the 
Democratic party than for several years previous. 
It was true that the dreaded northern sectional party 
had at last appeared with formidable strength ; but, 
on the other hand, the forces of conservatism repre- 
sented by the Democratic and American organiza- 
tions equalled it in the north and outnumbered it in 
the country at large. Popular sentiment, tired of 
the wrangles over slavery, subsided into the quietude 
which habitually marks the year succeeding a presi- 
dential contest. The Republican party now seemed 
to be undergoing a reaction; for in the local elec- 
tions of 1857 it lost ground nearly everywhere, barely 
carrying several states which had given good majori- 
ties in 1856 and failing in New York. In Ohio, where 
Chase was elected in 1855 by fifteen thousand plu- 
rality, he narrowly secured a second term by a mar- 
gin of 1 48 1 votes. Democratic papers even affected 
to think that the Republican party was about to 
expire. "Black Republicanism is dead in Ohio," 


said one. " The strong tide of public feeling is surg- 
ing against it everywhere and the Democrats have 
fought their last battle against it in this state and 
in the Union." 1 It seemed quite within the range 
of possibility that if Buchanan successfully adopted 
towards Kansas the fair, impartial course to which 
he had pledged himself, he might end the whole ter- 
ritorial controversy and leave the Republican party 
with no grievance and no excuse for existence. 

With such hopeful prospects before him, Buchanan 
took up the Kansas situation in the spring of 1857. 
His course was clear, marked out for him by the ac- 
tion of his party on the Toombs bill of 1856, by the 
declaration in the Democratic platform, and by his 
own explicit statements during and after the cam- 
paign. All that was necessary was to appoint an im- 
partial governor, secure a fair registration of voters, 
provide an honest election to a convention, and 
furnish an opportunity for the people of Kansas 
to accept or reject any constitution which might be 
draughted. Nothing in the Dred Scott decision ob- 
structed this programme ; for admitting the validity 
of the principle that neither Congress nor the territo- 
rial legislature could exclude slaves from a territory, 
the supreme court did not deny that in forming a 
state constitution the people of a territory could 
pass upon the point. "It is the imperative and in- 
dispensable duty of the government of the United 
States," said Buchanan in his inaugural address, "to 
1 Cleveland Plain Dealer, October 17, 1857. 


secure to every resident inhabitant the free and inde- 
pendent expression of his opinion by his vote. . . . 
That being accomplished, nothing can be fairer than 
to leave the people of a territory free from all foreign 
interference to decide their own destiny for them- 
selves.' ' Still more definitely, in a letter of July, he 
said, " On the question of submitting the constitution 
to the bona fide resident settlers of Kansas, I am will- 
ing to stand or fall." 1 

To carry out his policy, Buchanan sent Robert J. 
Walker, of Mississippi, to succeed Geary, whose im- 
partial course had been so ill supported by the 
Pierce administration that he resigned in disgust 
on March 4, 1857, and, like his predecessors, left 
the territory in fear for his life. 2 Walker, to whom 
fell the ungrateful task, was a figure of national 
reputation, formerly senator from Mississippi, secre- 
tary of the treasury under Polk, and author of the 
tariff of 1846, an energetic, irascible man, honora- 
ble and fearless of criticism, determined, although 
from a slave state, to adhere strictly to the im- 
partial course agreed upon by him with Buchanan. 
In his inaugural address, on May 26, he urged all 
the settlers to co-operate in forming a state gov- 
ernment, announcing that the administration was 
pledged to secure a fair vote, and that any consti- 
tution adopted would be submitted "for ratification 

1 Richardson, Messages and Papers, V., 431; House Reports, 
36 Cong., 1 Sess., No. 648, p. 112. 

2 Gihon , Geary, 288-291. 




or rejection by a majority of the then actual, bona 
-fide settlers of Kansas." 1 

This plan, however, encountered a serious obsta- 
cle in the form of a movement by the pro-slavery 
party in Kansas towards the framing of a consti- 
tution. It was seen that if the Free State party 
continued its policy of refusing to take part in any 
territorial elections, it would be easy to secure a 
pro - slavery constitution and ask the admission 
of Kansas into the Union as a slave state. Acting 
under this idea, the territorial legislature, after 
a favorable popular vote in October, 1856, set 
June 15, 1857, for the election of delegates. More- 
over, Stanton, the secretary of the territory and 
acting governor before the arrival of Walker, ap- 
portioned delegates upon the basis of the pro- 
slavery electoral registration, defective as it was, 
and Walker found himself confronted with a con- 
stitution-making process which altogether failed to 
correspond with the impartial intentions of himself 
and Buchanan. 

In the attempt to induce the Free State men to 
participate in the affair, Walker was unsuccessful, 
and the election of delegates at this critical point 
drew out less than one-eighth of the voters in the 
territory and resulted in the choice of a unanimous- 
ly pro -slavery convention. 2 Not disheartened by 

1 Holloway, Kansas, 49. 

2 Walker to Buchanan, June 28, 1857, House Reports, 36 
Cong., 1 Sess., No. 68, p. 118. 


this set-back, Walker continued to urge the Free 
State party to share in the coming territorial elec- 
tion of October, 1857, and during the summer suc- 
ceeded in convincing them of his impartiality and 
of the wisdom of abandoning the hopeless effort to 
maintain the Topeka government. Many eastern 
Republicans approved such a change of policy, be- 
lieving that the majority of Free State men was so 
large that they could be certain, under a fair count, 
of controlling the territorial election. 1 Walker him- 
self saw clearly that the pro-slavery element was 
outnumbered, but he felt sure that if Kansas were 
admitted as a state, free or slave, it would be con- 
trolled by the Democratic party and would furnish 
two more senators to aid in holding the Senate 
against the danger of Republican control. 

By this time, however, Walker's policy had be- 
gun to evoke criticism from southern leaders. His 
repression of Lane and the violent Free State men 
did not atone in their eyes for his attempts to win 
the confidence of the moderate anti-slavery leaders ; 
and his hopes for an additional Democratic state 
offered small compensation for the loss of an ex- 
pected slave-holding community. His pledge that 
the constitution should be submitted to the people 
was termed "a breach of neutrality and an insidi- 
ous and high-handed breach of faith towards the 
South and the Southern men in Congress." He was 
denounced by the Alabama senate and censured by 

1 Robinson, Kansas, 354 et seq. 


the Democratic state convention of Mississippi, and 
in August the Charleston Mercury declared: "We 
do not believe that since the Union began there has 
been any question which has brought the South into 
more complete union than the proceedings of Gov- 
ernor Walker in Kansas. . . . We do not believe 
that a single man who sought the suffrages of our 
people would dare to support or defend Walker's 
villainy in Kansas." 1 The danger that the Free 
State men might vote against a pro -slavery con- 
stitution now led the radical southern papers to 
urge that the pro-slavery convention already elect- 
ed in the spring should enact any constitution it 
might draught without submitting it to popular vote, 
notwithstanding the unqualified pledges of both 
Walker and Buchanan. 

In the territorial election of October, 1857, Wal- 
ker honorably redeemed his promises by throwing 
out the returns from counties where the pro-slavery 
party cast its usual fraudulent votes, with the re- 
sult that the Free State party secured a clear ma- 
jority of both Council and House of Representatives. 2 
Had Reeder or Shannon played their parts with 
equal firmness, this result might have been antici- 
pated by many months, for at all times since the 
election of 1855 there seems to have been a Free 
State majority in the territory. Certainly from this 
moment it was clear that Kansas could not be made 

1 Charleston Mercury, May 19, August 19, 1857. 

2 Brown, Reminiscences of Walker, 74-103. 


a slave state except against the will of its voters. 
A turning-point was reached. 

The constitutional convention elected in the pre- 
vious spring now met at the pro -slavery town of 
Lecompton, with the certainty that its work would 
be rejected if submitted to the voters. Protected 
from the angry Free State men by federal troops, 
this body, under the leadership of John Calhoun, 
the surveyor of the territory, played a desperate 
game. Not daring to follow the suggestions show- 
ered upon them by southern newspapers, that they 
should enact a constitution without any popular 
vote, they draughted a document which contained a 
special article on slavery and voted to submit that 
alone to popular suffrage. It declared that the 
right of property was higher and before any con- 
stitutional sanction; that the right to slave prop- 
erty and its increase was inviolable ; and that there 
was no power in the state to emancipate slaves 
without their owners' consent, nor to prevent their 
entrance. If this article should be stricken out, 
slavery should no longer exist, except that the right 
of property in slaves already in the territory should 
not be interfered with. The vote was to be "For 
the Constitution with Slavery" or "For the Con- 
stitution without Slavery," and was to be con- 
ducted by officials appointed by the convention 
itself. 1 

1 Poore, Charters and Constitutions, 605-611; MacDonald, 
Select Documents, 436. 
vol. xvni. — 1 s 


The plan was not unskilful. It certainly seemed 
to submit the crucial point to the people of Kan- 
sas, and thereby, if the voters were only concerned 
to pass upon the existence of slavery, to carry out 
the pledges of Buchanan and Walker. It was true 
that if the ''Constitution without Slavery" were 
adopted, the slaves already in Kansas would not be 
freed, and amendment would not be possible until 
1864; but from the southern point of view the main 
question would have been settled. The non- sub- 
mission of the constitution itself did not strike a 
southerner as peculiar, for this method of enact- 
ment was common in the slave states. 

The intense indignation in Kansas over this plan 
of submission was quickly communicated to the 
north, where the proposition was at once stigma- 
tized as a swindle. "The pretense of submission 
is a fraud," said the Tribune, "and the refusal to 
submit the entire constitution itself an outrage." 1 
Probably the angriest person in the United States 
was Walker, who found all his plans thwarted. He 
told Calhoun plainly that if the scheme were car- 
ried through he should oppose it with all his power. 
Calhoun replied that Buchanan himself favored the 
idea, whereat Walker in a passion retorted : " I con- 
sider such a submission of the question a vile fraud, 
a base counterfeit, and a wretched device to keep 
the people from voting. ... I will not support it, 
but I will denounce it, no matter whether the ad- 
1 AT. Y. Tribune, November 16, 1857. 



ministration sustains it or not." 1 When the con- 
vention adjourned, leaving the vote to be taken on 
December 21 through its agents, the exasperated 
governor returned to Washington, as each of his 
predecessors had done, to lay the matter before the 

A highly critical decision now lay in Buchanan's 
hands. In spite of recent Democratic victories and 
the large Democratic majority in each House of 
Congress, the administration trembled on the brink 
of a disaster as complete as that which had over- 
taken Pierce when his outlook seemed equally pros- 
perous, for the cry of broken faith had wrecked 
Pierce and it might also ruin Buchanan. The Le- 
compton constitution tested the sincerity of Bu- 
chanan's pledges, for if he were to support his agent, 
Walker, he could not avoid repudiating that docu- 
ment as Walker had done. It was asserted at the 
time that this half-way method of submitting the 
constitution was a plot concocted in the cabinet by 
Thompson, the secretary of the interior and Cal- 
houn's superior, but that Buchanan himself, up to 
this period, was innocent, seems to be proved by his 
correspondence with Walker. He was still free to act. 2 

But Buchanan was never in his prime a strong- 
willed man, and now he was old and weak. When 

1 House Reports, 36 Cong., 1 Sess., No. 648, p. no. 

2 Buchanan to Walker, October 22, 1857; Nicolay and Hay, 
Lincoln, II., no; House Reports, 36 Cong., 1 Sess., No. 648, 
p. 114. 


Walker reached Washington he found that the presi- 
dent had been fairly terrified by Cobb, Thompson, 
Davis, and other southerners into deciding to uphold 
the work of the Lecompton convention, 1 and the only 
course for Walker was to resign, which he did in a 
stinging public letter. 2 In taking this step, Bu- 
chanan committed a blunder worse even than that 
of Pierce when he upheld the fraudulent Kansas 
legislature, for Buchanan not merely furnished a 
grievance for the languishing opposition; he took, 
as it proved, the first step towards the disruption 
of the Democratic party. 

At this juncture the one personality upon whom 
most depended was Douglas, the idol of the western 
Democrats, the ablest senatorial debater, and the 
strongest single leader in the party. He had not 
found it hard to extenuate the pro-slavery frauds 
and the Missourian invasions and to uphold the ter- 
ritorial legislature against the Free State "Rebels" 
with all his powers of argument. If ambition was 
his guide, it seemed as though he could not hesitate 
to remain a stalwart defender of the administration 
and of the Lecompton constitution. But Douglas 
and his constituents understood something real by 
popular sovereignty. ' ' By even the narrowest con- 
struction, this must mean that the people of a ter- 
ritory actually should vote upon a proposed consti- 

1 Rhodes, United States, II., 280. 

2 Walker to Cass, December 15, 1857, Senate Exec. Docs., 35 
(?ong., 1 Sess., No. 8, p. 130. 


tution, in whole and in part, as had been done in 
every one of the northwestern states between 1846 
and 1 85 1. For Douglas to approve the plan of the 
Lecompton constitution was to put himself square- 
ly athwart every tradition of his section, and he 
knew this perfectly well. Accordingly, in a dra- 
matic interview, he told the indignant Buchanan 
that he should denounce it. "Mr. Douglas," said 
Buchanan, " I wish you to remember that no Dem- 
ocrat ever yet differed from an administration of 
his own choice without being crushed. Beware of 
the fate of Tallmadge and Rives." To which Doug- 
las pithily re orted: "Mr. President, I wish you to 
remember that General Jackson is dead." 1 

Events now moved straight to a party crisis. In 
his annual message, Buchanan said that the Le- 
compton convention was legal, and that by the 
method of submission "every citizen shall have an 
opportunity of expressing his opinion by his vote 
whether Kansas shall be received into the Union 
with or without slavery, and thus the exciting ques- 
tion may be peacefully settled in the very mode 
required by the organic law. The election will be 
held under legitimate authority, and if any portion 
of the inhabitants shall refuse to vote, a fair oppor- 
tunity to do so having been presented, this will be 
their own voluntary act and they alone will be re- 
sponsible for the consequences." 2 

1 Nicolay and Hay, Lincoln, II., 120. 

2 Richardson, Messages and Papers, V., 453. 


Two days later Douglas rose and announced his 
purpose to oppose the Lecompton constitution. He 
asserted that the Kansas-Nebraska act had for its 
fundamental principle the right of the people of the 
territory to decide on all their "domestic concerns," 
not merely slavery ; that the universal understand- 
ing in the country and in the territory had been 
that any constitution, however framed, would have 
to be submitted as a whole to the bona fide voters; 
and that on this issue the national election of 1856 
had been won. "They have a right," he said, "to 
judge for themselves whether they like it or not. 
... It is no answer to tell me that the constitution 
is a good one and unobjectionable. . . . Whether 
good or bad, it is none of my business and none of 
yours. . . . Let me ask you why force this constitu- 
tion down the throats of the people of Kansas in 
opposition to their wishes and in violation of their 
pledges? . . . Frame any other bill that carries out 
the pledge that the people shall be left free to 
decide on their own domestic institutions for them- 
selves and I will go with you. . . . But if this con- 
stitution is to be forced down our throats, in 
violation of the fundamental principles of free 
government, under a mode of submission that is a 
mockery and an insult, I will resist it to the last." 1 
This message and speech produced a sensation 
throughout the country, for it presaged a serious 
rupture between Douglas and the administration. 
1 Cong. Globe, 35 Cong., 1 Sess., 17, 18. 


While southern papers commented severely upon 
Douglas's position, most of the northern Demo- 
cratic sheets applauded his stand and condemned 
the Lecompton constitution. 

In Kansas the situation now developed rapidly 
into another deadlock; for when, on December 21, 
the vote on the Lecompton constitution took place, 
the Free State men, who opposed the document 
as a whole, refused to participate. Hence the re- 
sults stood: for the constitution with slavery, 6226 
(of which 2720 were later proved fraudulent); for 
the constitution without slavery, 569. Meanwhile 
the territorial legislature, convened by Stanton at 
the urgent demand of the Free State party, had 
provided for another vote on January 4, 1858, in 
which ballots might be cast against the constitu- 
tion as well as for it. Stanton was promptly pun- 
ished for this indiscretion by removal, but the 
second vote came off with the following results: 
for the constitution with slavery, 138; for the con- 
stitution without slavery, 24; against the constitu- 
tion, 10,226. In this confused form the verdict of 
Kansas upon the Lecompton constitution came be- 
fore the president and Congress. 

Buchanan was by this time fully committed to 
the extreme southern position and had cast aside 
every vestige of the impartiality he had avowed in 
the preceding year. February 2, 1858, he sent the 
Lecompton constitution to Congress and recom- 
mended the admission of Kansas under it as a 



slave state. He stigmatized the refusal of the Free 
State party to vote on December 2 1 as part of their 
"treasonable system," especially unpardonable, 
since, at this time, "the all-important question" 
was submitted. If they really wished to make Kan- 
sas a free state, he concluded, the only way they 
could do so was by submitting to the Lecompton 
constitution. " It has been solemnly adjudged," he 
urged, "by the highest judicial tribunal, . . . that 
slavery exists in Kansas by virtue of the Constitu- 
tion of the United States. Kansas is therefore at 
this moment as much a slave state as Georgia or 
South Carolina." 1 By this action the irretrievable 
step was taken and the fate of the administration 
and the Democratic party was staked on the effort 
to force Kansas in as a slave state. From the point 
of view of political expediency and of party man- 
agement, no president ever made a worse mistake. 
1 Richardson, Messages and Papers, V., 479. 



IN the controversy into which the country was 
now plunged by the new turn of the Kansas 
struggle, the storm no longer raged in that terri- 
tory, for the ascendency of the Free State party was 
seen to be assured ; nor did it convulse the country 
at large, for a sense of fatigue and disgust over the 
whole Kansas affair made itself felt, and the finan- 
cial depression served to distract public attention. 
The vital matter was now the complicated and ex- 
ceedingly bitter party situation resulting from Bu- 
chanan's attempt to force the admission of Kansas 
under the Lecompton constitution, the dramatic 
bolt of Douglas, and the consequent likelihood of 
the disruption of the Democratic party. 

The contest began in Congress with an attempt 
to punish Douglas for his desertion at this crisis, 
when victory seemed* in the grasp of the south, by 
breaking him down altogether. The Lecompton de- 
bate in the Senate took the form of a savage attack 
upon Douglas and three other Democratic senators 
who stood with him — Stuart, of Michigan, Pugh } of 


Ohio, and Broderick, of California. At the same 
time an official proscription which surprised even 
the hardened spoilsmen of that day was carried 
through, every adherent of Douglas being merci- 
lessly turned out of the public service, while con- 
gressmen were given to understand that a vote 
against the Lecompton bill meant political death. 1 

Under this heavy fire the conduct of Douglas 
was admirable. Carefully refraining from assailing 
either the president or any of his defenders, he 
confined himself to justifying his right to an inde- 
pendent opinion and delivering a series of crushing 
attacks upon the Lecompton constitution, as a vio- 
lation not only of "popular sovereignty" but of 
common fairness and equity. The Republicans, for 
obvious reasons, gladly allowed him to take the 
brunt of the conflict. On the other side the argu- 
ments did little more than repeat those of Buchan- 
an's messages, but underneath all that the southern 
senators said ran the assumption that Kansas was 
by right theirs and ought to be a slave state; and 
that a refusal to admit it under the Lecompton 
constitution was sufficient ground for secession. 

Feeling ran extremely high in Congress during the 
contest, especially between the administration Dem- 
ocrats and those who followed Douglas, and the 
session of the House in which the bill was intro- 
duced broke up in a series of fist-fights between 

1 Sheahan, Douglas, 387; House Reports, 36 Cong., 1 Sess., 
No. 648, p. 296. 


northern and southern members. 1 The struggle was 
not long, however. On March 23 the Senate voted 
.to admit Kansas under the Lecompton constitution, 
by 33 to 25, two southern Americans — Bell, of Ten- 
nessee, and Crittenden, of Kentucky — voting in the 
minority with the Republicans and the four bolting 
Democrats. In the House, however, on April 1, no 
less than 22 Democrats joined with 6 Americans 
and 92 Republicans to carry an amendment pro- 
viding for a resubmission of the constitution; the 
administration retaining 104 Democrats and 8 of the 
Americans. In accepting this amendment, the Re- 
publicans abandoned their earlier principle of un- 
qualified opposition to slavery, and accepted the 
ground which they rejected in the discussion of the 
Toombs bill of 1856; but the practical certainty 
that the constitution would be rejected, coupled 
with the unsettling effect of the Dred Scott deci- 
sion, made them willing to use the opportunity even 
at the risk of a violation of consistency. 2 

The administration could not afford to let this 
amendment kill the bill, for a settlement of the 
Kansas question had become an absolute political 
necessity. Accordingly, in conference committee, 
W. H. English, of Indiana, offered a compromise 
by which the resubmission was granted, but on the 
condition that if Kansas rejected the Lecompton 
constitution it was to lose part of the public land it 

1 Johnston and Browne, Stephens, 329. 

2 Von Hoist, United States, VI., 228. 


desired, and was not to be admitted as a state until 
its population equalled the ratio necessary for a 
representative in Congress. This proposition bore 
marks of the same kind of statesmanship as that 
which framed the Lecompton constitution itself, 
joining as it did a penalty and a bribe to induce 
the voters of Kansas to accept the objectionable 
document. Yet the fact that it yielded the main 
point induced nine of the anti-Lecompton Demo- 
crats in the House to change front, and thereby the 
compromise was accepted, by a vote of 120 to 112. 
In the Senate Douglas fought the English bill to 
the end, but it passed easily on April 30. 

The final decision was now remitted to the voters 
of Kansas; their response was made on August 2, 
when the vote stood, for accepting the constitution, 
1926; for rejecting it, 11,812. The Free State ma- 
jority preferred to remain in the territorial status 
rather than to enter the Union under a pro-slavery 
constitution. With this decision the Kansas diffi- 
culty came to an end. Legally, according to the 
Dred Scott doctrine, slavery might exist in Kansas, 
but practically it was excluded, through the con- 
trol of the territory by northern men. 

The Kansas question had been settled by Bu- 
chanan, at last, although in a manner which brought 
him neither glory at the south nor popularity at 
the north, but the party problem created by it re- 
mained to be solved. Was Douglas to be pardoned 
and restored to good standing in the Democratic 


ranks, or would the administration and its southern 
counsellors persist in the effort to ruin the man who 
had been their strongest northern ally? The an- 
swer to this question in the summer of 1858 was 
unmistakable. From the southern leaders and news- 
papers and from the administration organs in the 
north came an uninterrupted chorus of condemna- 
tion of the traitor. "We shall treat Judge Doug- 
las,'' said a Tennessee newspaper, " just as we should 
treat any other Democrat who, in an emergency, 
abandoned his principles and made common cause 
with the enemy." 1 When Douglas was renomi- 
nated to succeed himself as senator from Illinois, the 
south repudiated the action of the Illinois Demo- 
crats, and, with the exception of Wise, of Virginia, 
and the Richmond Enquirer, expressed a desire for 
his defeat ; and the federal office - holders in the 
state, with the support of the administration, or- 
ganized separate anti-Douglas nominations for state 
and legislative offices in order to divide the Demo- 
cratic vote. 2 

It now became a question in the minds of many 
Republican leaders, notably Greeley, of the New 
York Tribune, and Senator Wilson, of Massachusetts, 
whether their party ought not to seek to enlist 
Douglas as a new recruit in order to use his great 
powers in behalf of their cause. 3 Accordingly, they 

1 Nashville Union, June 24, 1858. 

2 Nicolay and Hay, Lincoln, II., 144 et seq. 

8 Macy, Political Parties, 259-262 ; Wilson, Slave Power, II., 567. 


urged that the Illinois Republicans should not con- 
test his return to the Senate, thinking that he would 
be more troublesome to the Democrats than any 
Republican who could be elected; but the western 
Republicans saw insurmountable obstacles. " What 
we have seen, heard and felt of him," said Chase, 
"will make it impossible for us to trust him until 
after a very sufficient probation, . . . which he has 
not the slightest intention of undergoing. In fact, 
he neither expects nor wishes more from us than a 
suspension of hostilities until his re-election is made 
secure." 1 "The fact is," said the Chicago Tribune, 
"Mr. Douglas has recanted none of his political 
heresies. . . . The exigencies by which he was sur- 
rounded brought him into conflict with the admin- 
istration upon a simple question of fact as to whether 
the Lecompton constitution had been sufficiently 
submitted to the people; upon matters of principle 
his views are substantially those of Mr. Buchanan. 
... It is asking too much of the freemen of Illinois 
... to support a man for Senator who, if not avow- 
edly a champion of slavery extension, gives all his 
influence to it." 2 The nomination by the Illinois 
Republicans in state convention on June 16, 1858, 
of Abraham Lincoln as their party candidate for 
senator ended the hopes of any coalition. 

In the congressional and state elections of 1858, 
the people of the country passed their verdict upon 

1 Chase to Sumner, January 18, 1858, in Am. Hist. Assoc., 
Report, 1902, II., 276. 2 Chicago Tribune, July 10, 1858. 


the administration of Buchanan. In the south the 
Democrats found the opposition party still in the 
field — once Whig, later American, and now name- 
less — but had no difficulty in preserving their ascen- 
dency. In the north, however, the Republicans made 
a vigorous campaign on the issue of rebuking the 
administration for the "Lecompton swindle," and 
were aided in a decisive way by the commercial de- 
pression following the panic of 1857. In the state 
of Pennsylvania, which had remained unswerving- 
ly Democratic through the Kansas excitement, the 
prostration of the iron industry caused a sharp 
revival of protectionist feeling and a desire to re- 
buke the Democratic administration. Fired by 
these sentiments, the Republicans and Americans, 
joined by a group of anti-Lecompton Democrats led 
by J. W. Forney, met in a People's convention at 
Harrisburg on July 14, and nominated candidates for 
state judge and canal commissioner on a platform 
which denounced the Lecompton iniquity and de- 
manded "adequate protection for American indus- 
try." 1 

Public interest centred in Illinois, for Douglas, 
declining to submit to his political enemies, made a 
desperate canvass of the state. So great was his 
hold over the Illinois farmers that the utmost efforts 
of the administration agents failed to undermine his 
popularity ; from the opening of the campaign he was 
greeted by crowds in every town and country with 

Pa. Inquirer, June S.July 15, 16, 1858. 


cheers and enthusiasm. Popular excitement was 
soon increased when Lincoln issued a challenge to 
Douglas to hold seven joint debates in various parts 
of the state. This was a bold step, for there was no 
better debater in the United States than Douglas. 
He was quick, adroit, plausible, wonderfully gifted 
with the power of fallacious and mendacious asser- 
tion in a way that made exposure seem laborious 
and ineffective. No man in the Senate could hold 
him to the point or avoid being driven into an un- 
comfortable defensive attitude by his ruthless per- 
sonalities. Lincoln, on the other hand, was less 
self-confident, slower in thought, clumsy in repartee, 
and by no means Douglas's match in running de- 
bate ; but he never lost his temper or allowed him- 
self to be distracted by side issues, and he struck 
steadily and mercilessly at the weak points in Doug- 
las's armor. 1 The result was a contest which stirred 
excitement in Illinois beyond anything hitherto 
known. To see such debaters matched brought enor- 
mous crowds together in sheer joy of sportsman- 
ship. Brass-bands and cannon welcomed the candi- 
dates, processions by day and night kept enthusiasm 
from flagging, and scores of political orators besides 
the two protagonists took the stump in every con- ] 
gressional and legislative district. 2 

The debates showed from the start that although 5 
Douglas had voted with the Republicans against the 

1 Nicolay and Hay, Lincoln, II., 146. 

'* Lincoln-Douglas Debates (Columbus ed., i860). 


Lecompton constitution, there was no real ground 
of common principle between them. He attacked 
Lincoln, precisely as he would have done in 1854, 
with the charge that he was an abolitionist, a mem- 
ber of a sectional party whose success would imperil 
the Union. As to the existence of slavery in the 
territories, he declared himself absolutely indifferent 
so long as the principle of "popular sovereignty" 
were adhered to. "I will vote," he said, "for the 
admission of just such a state as by the form of their 
constitution the people show they want; if they 
want slavery, they shall have it; if they prohibit 
slavery, it shall be prohibited. They can form their 
institutions to suit themselves." 1 He spent a great 
deal of time insisting upon the natural inferiority of 
the negro, enlarged upon the necessity of "a white 
man's government," sneered at the Republicans as 
"amalgamationists," and in every way showed that 
he had not changed since 1854. 

One of his principal grounds of attack upon Lin- 
coln was a sentence used by the latter in his speech 
accepting the senatorial nomination. Lincoln had 
demonstrated the impossibility of ending the slavery 
agitation so long as slavery existed, and, quoting the 
Bible to the effect that " a house divided against it- 
self cannot stand," had predicted that the Union 
could not exist permanently half slave or half free, 
but must become all one thing or all the other. 2 

1 Lincoln-Douglas Debates (Columbus ed., i860), 103. 
3 Lincoln, Works, I., 240. 

VOL. XVIII. — 16 


This Douglas denounced as a virtual declaration of 
war upon the southern states, "revolutionary and 
destructive of the existence of this government, " 
and " inviting a warfare between the north and the 
south to be carried on with ruthless vengeance until 
the one section or the other shall be driven to the 
wall and become the victim of the rapacity of the 
other." 1 

On his part, Lincoln was obliged to devote much 
time to defending himself from the charges of fa- 
naticism and incendiarism levelled against him, 
and he showed by his replies that he was by no 
means radical in his anti - slavery views. But he 
showed also that the fundamental difference be- 
tween himself and Douglas lay in the fact that he 
regarded slavery as wrong, while Douglas reiterated 
his entire indifference. Moreover, he made an un- 
remitting effort to force Douglas to commit himself 
concerning the effect of the Dred Scott decision upon 
his doctrine of "popular sovereignty" in the terri- 
tories. This put Douglas in a difficult position, for 
he could not reject Taney's opinion, nor could he 
afford to abandon the cherished dogma on behalf of 
which he had fought his fight against the Lecomp- 
ton constitution. With characteristic adroitness he 
replied that undoubtedly the decision stood, and 
neither Congress nor a territory could expressly 
prohibit slavery in a territory, but that practically 
slavery could not exist unless supported by "local 

1 Lincoln-Douglas Debates, 70, 115. 


police regulations." Hence, he concluded, a terri- 
tory might effectually exclude slavery, in spite of 
the Dred Scott decision, by "unfriendly legisla- 
tion." 1 This utterance of Douglas at Freeport, 
August 27, became known as his "Freeport doc- 
trine," and showed that, regardless of law or 
logic, he was determined to adhere to his cher- 
ished pretension that the people of a territory 
could regulate their own affairs under all circum- 

Lincoln is reported to have said that he was 
pushing the campaign for the purpose of killing 
Douglas as a presidential candidate. As it later 
appeared, he was successful in this aim, but in the 
immediate contest he was beaten. Aided by a some- 
what favorable legislative apportionment, Doug- 
las barely carried the day over Republicans and 
Lecompton Democrats, and secured a majority of 
both Senate and House of Representatives. It was 
a brilliant personal triumph, and made him the most 
prominent individual in the party and in the coun- 
try. Instead of being crushed, he returned to the 

I Senate with greater prestige than ever before, a 
prestige accentuated by the results of the elections 

; in other northern states. 

Everywhere the verdict of the voters upon the 
Lecompton administration was decisive. Outside 
of Illinois every state was carried by the opposition 

'except Indiana, where the successful Democratic 


1 Lincoln, Works, I., 315. 


candidate for governor was also a Douglas follower. 1 
In Pennsylvania the hard times proved disastrous 
for Buchanan's own state, and the fusion, on the 
tariff issue, won a complete victory. "Pennsyl- 
vania may well be proud of the high position she 
has just assumed," said a local paper. "She has 
fully identified herself with the Republican cause of 
Popular Sovereignty, and at the same time has taken 
a bold and decided stand in favor of Home Mills, 
Home Manufactories and American Industry." 2 In 
the congressional elections the Republicans gained 
twenty -one seats. The northern Know -Nothing 
party now ceased to be of importance except in the 
states where its coalitions gave the Republicans a 
victory. 3 

As a result of the events of 1858, the Republican 
party stood forward stronger than before, undam- 
aged by the Dred Scott decision and confident of 
victory in i860. Its leaders everywhere were tak- 
ing bolder ground than ever, and even Seward, who 
was never in advance of popular sentiment, took 
occasion to make a speech containing a passage 
parallel to the phrase of Lincoln which had been 
the object of Douglas's attack. After describing 
the struggle between north and south as one be- 
tween free labor and slave labor, he concluded, " It 
is an irrepressible conflict between opposing and 

1 Foulke, Morton, I., 65. 

2 Pa. Inquirer, October 14, 1858. 

3 Scisco, Political Nativism, 231 et seq. 


enduring forces, and it means that the United States 
must and will, sooner or later, become either en- 
tirely a slave-holding nation or a free-labor na- 
tion." 1 

The result of Buchanan's Kansas policy was thus 
apparent. By his mismanagement he had present- 
ed his recently beaten enemy with a winning issue, 
had lost the cordial support of the Democrats in 
the north, and by his failure, after all, to retain 
Kansas as a slave state had damaged the prestige 
of his party at the south. No president has a 
record of more hopeless ill-success. 

1 Seward, Works, IV., 289. 



AFTER the first session of the Thirty-fifth Con- 
l gress there remained no concrete issue between 
the free states and the slave states. The existence 
of slavery in the annexations from France and 
Mexico, Kansas included, was legally permitted by 
the Utah and New Mexico acts of 1850 and the 
Kansas-Nebraska act of 1854, and was further sanc- 
tioned in these territories, and in those on the Pacific 
as well, by the doctrine laid down in the Dred Scott 
decision of 1857. On the other hand, slavery was 
practically excluded from all the territories then 
settled, except New Mexico, by the fact that they 
were actually occupied by settlers opposed to its in- 
troduction. In New Mexico the territorial legislature 
passed an act to protect slave property in 1 859, 1 but it 
was well known that the nature of the country forbade 
any considerable influx. Whatever the legal rights of 
slave-owners, they would not take their property there. 

To win a barren technical victory the south had 
suffered actual defeat. Only by further tropical 
1 Bancroft, Arizona and New Mexico, 683. 


annexations could profitable slave territories be ob- 
tained; and this the invincible obstinacy of the 
north was sure to prevent. There was slight hope 
of another Mexican war. The conviction was borne 
in upon all thinking southerners that the destiny of 
the south was henceforth to remain stationary with- 
in the limits of the existing slave states, while the 
northwestern territories, continually filling up from 
the eastern states, were to add a succession of free 
states to increase the existing northern preponder- 
ance in Congress. The admission of Oregon in 1859 
and Minnesota in 1858 was evidently but the begin- 
ning. Territorially, therefore, the south was even 
worse off than it had been in 1850. 

The sectional problem now changed its form. 
No longer was it a contest for expansion which 
pitted north against south, but a direct struggle 
for control of the federal government. The fatal 
blunder of the Buchanan administration had de- 
livered the north into the hands of the avowedly 
anti-slavery Republican party, whose success would 
mean at the very least the complete exclusion of 
southern men from influence and the systematic 
neglect of the interests of slave-holders, a situation 
intolerable to southern pride or prosperity. The 
only defence against Republican success in 1856 had 
been the strength of the Democratic party in the 
north, but now that strength seemed perilously 
shaken. At the crisis of the Kansas contest the 
defection of Douglas turned the scale against south- 


ern desires and brought on an open rupture between 
Buchanan and the northern Democrats, which could 
be healed only by caution, wisdom, and coolness on 
the part of all concerned. From 1858 to i860, 
then, the political interest of the country centred 
upon the situation in the Democratic party. 1 

The first steps towards reconciliation came from 
Douglas. Although flushed with triumph after his 
campaign in Illinois, he indulged in no reflections 
upon the administration, but travelled in the south, 
making conciliatory speeches at Memphis, New Or- 
leans, and elsewhere. 2 His reception was cordial on 
the surface, but when he returned to Congress he 
found the majority still vindictive. In organizing 
the Senate, the Democratic caucus deposed him 
from the chairmanship of the committee on territo- 
ries, yet he submitted in silence, determined to avoid 
a quarrel with the rest of his party, and hoping that 
by showing his "regularity" on other matters his 
action of the previous year might be allowed to fall 
into oblivion as the presidential contest drew nearer. 

Buchanan's annual message reported the success- 
ful conclusion of a territorial difficulty into which 
the slavery question did not enter. The Mormon 
settlement, made in the Mexican territory in 1847, 
had been restless ever since its incorporation in the 
United States by the treaty of 1848, and had tried 
in vain to secure self-government by admission as 

1 Macy, Political Parties, 244, 258. 

* Nicolay and Hay, Lincoln, II., 1 71-174. 


a state of the Union. Only the designation of the 
spiritual leader of the Mormons, Brig ham Young, as 
the territorial governor, served to allay their desire 
for independence. An attempt in 1857 to displace 
Young as governor of Utah brought on, therefore, 
something very like an insurrection, for the territory 
supported Young in refusing to submit. Federal 
judges and land-officers were promptly expelled from 
the region, and bands of "Danites" committed out- 
rages upon non-Mormon residents. 

In his message of December, 1857, Buchanan 
asked for no less than ten regiments of troops, with 
the purpose of using five to reassert federal authority 
in Utah. The Republicans, with the exception of 
Seward, strenuously opposed granting any new 
troops, on the ground that Buchanan could not be 
trusted not to employ them against the Free State 
party in Kansas, but they were unable to prevent 
the authorization of two volunteer regiments. As 
it turned out, Buchanan was able to collect enough 
regular troops to carry through his plans without 
enlisting the volunteers. In the spring of 1858 he 
issued a proclamation calling upon the Mormons 
to submit, sent a new governor, Cumming, over the 
mountains with a considerable military force, and 
was able to report to Congress that Young and the 
Mormons had ceased to resist. 1 

1 Richardson, Messages and Papers, V., 454-456, 493, 503-506; 
Bancroft, Hist, of the Pacific States, XXI., chaps, xviii.-xxi.; 
Senate Exec. Docs., 36 Cong., 11 Sess., No. 42. 


The striking feature of this session of Congress 
was the revelation that, in spite of the settlement 
of the Kansas question, there was an irrepressible 
conflict between north and south, even in the Demo- 
cratic party. In his annual message Buchanan once 
more reviewed the history of the Lecompton affair, 
throwing the blame for all trouble upon the Free 
State party, and concluding by saying, in reference 
to his support of the Lecompton constitution, "In 
the course of my long public life, I have never per- 
formed any official act which in the retrospect has 
afforded me more heartfelt satisfaction." 1 

This irreconcilable attitude on the part of Bu- 
chanan was a reflection in him of the stiffly sec- 
tional feelings of the leading southerners. When a 
Pacific railroad bill was under consideration and it 
proved impossible to get the two parts of the 
country to agree upon an eastern terminus, Iverson, 
of Georgia, explained his attitude on secessionist 
grounds. "I believe the time will come," he said, 
"when the Slave States will be compelled in vindi- 
cation of their rights, interests and honor, to sepa- 
rate from the Free States and erect an independent 
confederacy. ... I am unwilling to vote so much 
land and so much money to build a railroad to the 
Pacific, which, in my judgment, will be created out- 
side of a Southern confederacy. What I demand, 
therefore, is that . . . the South shall have an equal 
chance to secure a road within her borders ... to 

1 Richardson, Messages and Papers, V., 497. 


belong to her when— if ever — the Union is dis- 
solved." 1 

A homestead bill, to facilitate the settlement of 
western lands, passed the House but was shelved in 
the Senate, since the southern members regarded it 
with great disfavor as a sort of national Emigrant 
Aid Society. 2 In its place the Senate insisted on 
considering an appropriation of thirty millions for 
the purchase of Cuba, a project recommended by 
Buchanan in his message. It was well known that 
the Spanish Cortes had applauded vigorously when 
one of the ministry said, " Never will Spain abandon 
the smallest portion of its territories, and any prop- 
osition having that tendency will always be con- 
sidered by the Government as an insult to the 
Spanish people." 3 Nevertheless, a belief was cur- 
rent that Spanish ministers would be accessible to 
bribery, and the Republicans charged that the thirty 
millions were to be used for a corrupt purchase, 
which the Democratic senators indignantly denied. 
The whole Cuban project seemed so chimerical to 
Republican senators that they left the debate 
mainly to advocates of annexation, among whom 
was Douglas, glad to stand with his old associates 

The sectional antagonism flashed out when Toombs, 

1 Cong. Globe, 35 Cong., 2 Sess., 242, 244. 

3 Sanborn, "Political Aspects of Homestead Legislation," in 
Am. Hist. Rev., VI., 297. 

8 Callahan, Cuba and International Relations, 308. 


of Georgia, ridiculing the phrase " land for the land- 
less," sneered at the homestead bill as a piece of 
demagogy. "Now, sir," shouted Wade, "I have 
been trying here for nearly a month to get a straight- 
forward vote upon this great measure of land to the 
landless. . . . The question will be, shall we give 
niggers to the niggerless or lands to the landless? 
When you come to niggers for the niggerless, all 
other questions sink into insignificance. . . . Are you 
going to buy Cuba for land for the landless? What 
is there? You will find three-quarters of a million 
of niggers, but you will not find any land ; not one 
foot, not an inch. . . . No man can fail to see that 
he who votes and prefers one to the other, has done 
it because his soul was steeped in the nigger bill." 1 
The event of greatest significance during the ses- 
sion, however, was a debate which took place be- 
tween Douglas and the southern senators. On 
February 22, Hale, in his usual character of agitator, 
offered an amendment to the general appropriation 
bill repealing that section of the English bill which 
obliged Kansas to wait before applying for admis- 
sion until its population equalled the federal ratio. 
The next day Breckinridge, the vice-president, hop- 
ing to prevent a recurrence of sectional debate, tried 
to hurry on a vote, but Senator A. G. Brown, of 
Mississippi, broke in with a direct attack upon 
Douglas. "I neither want to cheat nor be cheat- 
ed," he said, "in the great contest that is to come 
1 Cong. Globe, 35 Cong., 2 Sess., 1354. 


off in i860. We shall claim for our slave property 
protection in the territories. ... I give you warning 
now that if Kansas legislates in a spirit of hostility 
to slavery ... a vast majority of the Southern peo- 
ple will come to Congress and will demand of you, 
in obedience to the written Constitution, . . . that 
you annul their legislation and substitute laws in- 
stead, giving adequate and sufficient protection to 
slave property. ... I understand from the Senator 
from Illinois that when I make that appeal he will 
deny it. ... I want in the next presidential election, 
that we shall know where we are, what we are and 
where we stand. If we agree let us stand together 
like honest men. If we disagree let us separate 
like honest men." 1 

Douglas, forced to break the silence in which, 
since the opening of the session, he had left his 
views on territorial slavery, replied with his custom- 
ary vigor, restating his position regarding the power 
of a territory to regulate all property relations and 
denying the possibility of Congress furnishing the 
"adequate protection" for slaves which Brown de- 
manded. "I would never vote for a slave code in 
the territories by Congress," he declared, "and I 
have yet to learn that there is a man in a free state 
of this Union, of any party, who would. ... I tell 
you, gentlemen of the South, in all candor, I do not 
believe a Democratic candidate can ever carry one 
State of the North on the platform that it is the 
1 Cong. Globe, 35 Cong., 2 Sess., 1242. 


duty of the federal government to force the people 
of a territory to have slavery when they do not 
want it." 1 There followed a sharp, defiant debate' 
between Douglas and the other member from Mis- 
sissippi, Jefferson Davis, who was fast coming to be 
regarded as the leading southern senator. In heat- 
ed language Douglas reiterated his views, and Davis, 
in reply, warned him squarely that he could never 
receive the vote of Mississippi, since in the eyes of 
the south he "was as full of heresy as he once was 
of adherence to the doctrine of popular sovereignty, 
correctly construed," and his "Freeport doctrine" 
was " a thing offensive to every idea of the supremacy 
of the laws of the United States and destructive of 
every prospect to preserve peace." 2 

Thenceforward the country realized that, how- 
ever ready Douglas was for a reconciliation, the 
southern leaders desired none ; unless Douglas chose 
to surrender everything to which he pledged him- 
self a hundred times and to withdraw from his pres- 
idential candidacy, a disruption between northern 
and southern Democrats was inevitable. 

A striking feature of the debate was the new doc- 
trine regarding the right of slave property to federal 
protection in the territories, which was set forth as 
the southern ultimatum. This was the answer to 
Douglas's Freeport doctrine, with its uncertain pop- 
ular sovereignty. The slave-holders now saw that, 

1 Cong. Globe, 35 Cong., 2 Sess., 1244, 1246. 

2 Ibid., 1257. 


in spite of the Dred Scott decision, they had no real 
equality in Kansas or the territories farther north, 
and could not have it unless their slaves could enjoy 
the same protection in them that they had at home. 
Thus the Calhoun theory of 1847 was carried to a 
logical conclusion: Douglas's " popular sovereignty" 
was now in the eyes of southerners as much a denial 
of their rights as the Wilmot Proviso itself. To be 
sure, a policy of federal support of slavery in the terri- 
tories could never pass the House of Representatives, 
three-fifths of whose members came from free states ; 
but the demand was squarely and intentionally made. 

The elections of 1859 were uneventful, for with 
no new issues, attention was turned towards the 
next presidential campaign, and in all parts of the 
country politics sank to a quietude not experienced 
for years. The exception was California, where the 
Lecompton affair led to a dramatic struggle with a 
tragic ending. The local Democratic party was con- 
trolled from the start by Senator Gwin, a pro- 
slavery man, and was so strongly "Hunker" and 
southern in its tendencies that Gwin had hopes of 
using it to detach the southern half of California 
as a slave state. Besides these pro-slavery Demo- 
crats, called in local political slang the "Chivalry," 
there appeared a new Democracy of the northern 
type, whose representative was David C. Broderick, 
who had somehow managed to rise to a position of 
leadership through methods learned in the school 
of New York City politics. Accepted as a colleague 


by Gwin on sufferance only, he came eventually into 
open antagonism with him over questions of offices, 
and the difficulty culminated in a rupture when 
Broderick followed Douglas in the Lecompton contest. 
In a savagely contested election, the administration 
Democrats of California won by a large majority 
over the Broderick Democrats and the Republicans, 
and this was followed by a duel in which Broderick 
was killed by Judge Terry, of the Gwin party. The 
loss of their champion completed the ruin of the 
bolters, and California remained for the time in the 
hands of southern sympathizers. 1 

The results of the state elections showed the Re- 
publicans still in control in the north, while in the 
south the Democrats were weakened by a revi- 
val of the sometime Whig party sufficiently strong 
to gain a number of congressmen, besides holding 
Maryland and casting increased votes in other 
states. 2 The future of the Democratic party looked 
black. Douglas seemed openly defiant. He took 
occasion to express semi - anti - slavery sentiments 
when asked his opinion regarding the reopening of 
the slave-trade, and in September he nailed his 
colors to the mast by publishing in Harper's Maga- 
zine an elaborate defence of "popular sovereignty, ,, 
with an attack on the new southern dogma. 3 At the 

V Bancroft, Hist, of Pacific States, XVIII., chaps, xxiii., xxiv.; 
Hittell, California, III., chaps, i.-ix. 

2 Schmeckebier, Know-Nothing Party in Maryland, 99-101. 
* Harper's Magazine, XIX., 519 (September, 1859). 


same time Davis took occasion to repeat his views 
with emphasis before the Democratic convention at 
Jackson, Mississippi. 1 Between these two men, who 
had worked with complete harmony to pass the 
Kansas-Nebraska bill, there was now no possibility 
of a common understanding. Neither could sup- 
port the other without an entire sacrifice of princi- 
ple and consistency, and each was spokesman for 
hundreds of thousands of voters. 

During these months the Republican party was at 
rest from its efforts and the dangers of the preceding 
years. It no longer needed to concern itself to find 
an issue, for it rested on a fixed sentiment among 
the majority of northern people that slavery must 
henceforward be shut in its existing limits. The 
preoccupation of Republican leaders in 1859 was to 
strengthen the organization in order to win the 
election of i860. Discussions of candidates replaced 
denunciations of Buchanan or the south, and at this 
time Seward, of New York — politician, leader in the 
largest state, and philosophical statesman — stood in 
the public eye as the acknowledged Republican 
spokesman. Radical at times in speech, but cau- 
tious in action, he was regarded at the north as the 
shrewdest party leader and in the south as the arch- 
abolitionist. 2 

By the autumn of 1859, then, the parts were 
■ssigned and the scenes ready for the great political 

1 N. Y. Tribune, August 31, 1859. 

2 Bancroft, Seward, I., 493. 



drama to be enacted in i860. The outcome was 
hidden from even the wisest at the time, and it lay 
with such men as Douglas, Davis, Toombs, Seward, 
and their followers to decide whether or not it 
should be secession. The time of preparation was 
at an end and the crisis was at hand. 




FROM 1855 to i860 the key to the diplomatic 
history of the country was the fact that the 
administrations of Pierce and Buchanan, whose 
chief desires were connected with a policy of south- 
ern expansion, were rendered almost powerless by 
the renewed sectional feeling of the north during 
the Kansas controversy. 1 The old opposition to ex- 
tension of slave territory blazed into fresh flame, 
taking form in scores of speeches in Congress, in 
newspaper articles, and in party resolutions. The 
Republican platform of 1856 declared " that the high- 
wayman's plea that might makes right embodied 
in the Ostend circular, . . . would bring shame 
and dishonor upon any government or people that 
gave it their sanction." 2 Hence, in view of this 
expressed antipathy of the north to extension of 
slave territory, a continuation of the policy begun 

1 For earlier stages of diplomacy, cf. above, chap, vi.; Garri- 
son, Westward Extension, chaps, vii.-xii. (Am. Nation, XVII.). 

2 Stan wood, Hist, of the Presidency, 272. 


by Marcy in regard to Cuba and Central America 
was out of the question. 

Although the last years of Pierce's term were 
marked by a cessation of efforts for annexations, 
Marcy 's conduct of foreign affairs continued to dis- 
play a defiance of European powers, and a willingness 
to risk affronting Great Britain in minor matters. 
During the Crimean War, some recruiting agents, 
claiming to be authorized by Crampton, the British 
minister, showed an annoying activity in eastern 
cities. In spite of Marcy 's vigorous protests, Lord 
Clarendon declined to admit the slightest laxity on 
the part of his representative; and the upshot was 
that in May, 1856, Pierce took the grave step of 
declining to hold any further diplomatic intercourse 
with Crampton. The evidence upon which Marcy 
and Pierce condemned Crampton was of a highly 
questionable character, and all that the facts seemed 
to show was some slight indiscretion on the Brit- 
ish minister's part; but although the British press 
exhibited irritation, the British government took 
no steps to resent it other than to leave their 
country unrepresented until Buchanan was inau- 
gurated. 1 

A similar independent attitude was shown by 
Marcy in attempting to conclude a series of treaties 
recognizing the principle of ' 'free ships and free 
goods," and when these were apparently superseded 

1 Senate Exec. Docs., 34 Cong., 1 Sess., No. 80; British and 
For. State Papers, XLVII., 358, XLVIII., 189. 


by the Declaration of Paris, in 1856, he declined to 
commit the United States to that document, partly 
because it did not recognize the full exemption 
claimed for neutrals by the United States, and 
partly because it abolished the traditional American 
practice of privateering in war-time. 1 In the same 
years Marcy forced the Danish government to con- 
sent to abandon its ancient " Sound dues" and com- 
mute all claims by a money payment in a treaty 
concluded in 185 7. 2 In these cases Marcy's conduct 
of the state department retained to the end its 
characteristic vigor, a quality which causes it to 
stand out prominently in the era between Polk and 

The Central American question, meanwhile, be- 
came so complicated as to justify Marcy's reluctance 
to commit the United States to any responsibility 
in that quarter. As soon as it became manifest that 
the Pierce administration was likely to fall short of 
the desires of the cotton states for tropical annexa- 
tion, the filibustering spirit reappeared, in a sudden 
and dramatic attempt to seize Nicaragua, the very 
country which controlled the proposed canal and 
the existing Transit Company. William Walker, a 
military adventurer with a previous record of un- 
successful filibustering against Mexico, joined in the 
chronic Nicaraguan civil wars with a handful of fol- 
lowers as an adherent of the "liberal" faction, and 

1 Senate Exec. Docs., 34 Cong., 1 Sese., No. 104. 

2 Ibid., No. 1; 35 Cong., 1 Sess., No. 28. 


by force or trickery succeeded in making away with 
Corral, the " legitimate " leader, and establishing him- 
self in control behind Rivas, a nominal president. 
For two years he remained the real dictator of Nic- 
aragua, stirring up great sympathy in the south- 
ern states, where he was looked upon as " the gray- 
eyed man of destiny,' ' a second Houston, and Nic- 
aragua was regarded as another Texas. 

Walker soon undermined his power by his sever- 
ity and by a series of mistakes, the most serious of 
which was the confiscation of the charter and the 
steamers of the Accessory Transit Company, upon 
an outrageous pretext, for the benefit of two con- 
federates. By this act he won the bitter enmity of 
the steamship company, headed by Cornelius Van- 
derbilt, which had been the means of bringing him 
supplies and reinforcements, and without which he 
was cut off from his supporters in the United States. 
Then he deposed Rivas, caused himself to be elect- 
ed president in July, 1856, issued a decree opening 
Nicaragua to slavery, and invited American capital. 
His government was recognized at Washington, but 
by this time his behavior had set all the other Central 
American states against him; war soon broke out, 
and Walker found himself attacked by overwhelm- 
ing numbers while cut off from reinforcements by 
the vengeful Transit Company. By the end of 
Pierce's term, after furious fighting, his forces were 
worn down, and in the spring of 1857 he was finally 
driven out, being taken from the city of Rivas, 


where he surrendered, by an American man-of- 
war. 1 

The result of these events was the destruction of 
any influence possessed by the United States with 
the Central American states, whose leaders looked 
upon Walker as representing the sentiment of the 
American people. Marcy's diplomacy was deprived 
of all support from Central American sources, and 
was hindered by the uncertainty attending the out- 
come of Walker's schemes. All that was accom- 
plished by Dallas, the successor of Buchanan at the 
court of St. James, was an agreement with Lord Clar- 
endon (October, 1856) by which Great Britain under- 
took to limit Belize, withdraw from the Mosquito 
protectorate, and restore the Bay Islands to Hon- 
duras, provided Honduras agreed to a treaty guar- 
anteeing to the Bay Islands a sort of self-government. 
This proposition was pending before the Senate at 
the end of Pierce's term, a lame conclusion to the 
strenuous beginning of Marcy's Central American 
diplomacy. 2 

When Buchanan assumed control of the govern- 
ment there could be no doubt as to the course which 
the Democratic party wished him to adopt. The 
party platform declared that "there are questions 
connected with the foreign policy of this country 

1 Scroggs, "Walker and the Steamship Co.," in Am. Hist. Rev., 
X., 792; Bancroft, Hist, of Pacific States, III., chaps, xvi., xvii.; 
Hittell, California, III., bk. X., chaps, vi., vii. 

2 Travis, Clayton-Bulwer Treaty, 177; Keasbey, Nicaragua 
Canal, 250. 



which are inferior to no domestic questions what- 
ever," and announced its approval of Walker's at- 
tempt "to regenerate that portion of the continent 
which covers the passage across the inter-oceanic 
isthmus." The platform went so far as to advocate 
the control by the United States of the transit route, 
which "no power on earth should be suffered to 
impede," and declared for the maintenance of "our 
ascendency in the Gulf of Mexico." 1 Buchanan 
himself was part author of the Ostend Manifesto, 
and had a large majority of each House of Congress 
at his back. But Buchanan was not a president to 
venture any positive policy unless he felt a secure 
backing from the other departments of government. 
He was by this time an old man, whose entire record 
had been one of caution in action and of reluctance 
to incur responsibility. Heartily anxious to please 
the southern advocates of annexation, as he was to 
satisfy their desires in Kansas, he would have been 
glad to gratify their utmost hopes; but unless he 
could secure definite authorization in advance from 
Congress he would not take a step. No more radical 
action was to be expected from the secretary of 
state, Lewis Cass, once a belligerent Anglophobe, 
but now a man of seventy-five years, and, if Bu- 
chanan's later testimony be believed, grown help- 
lessly inert and irresolute. 2 A more cautious pair 
of statesmen never undertook to deal with the 

1 Stanwood, Hist, of the Presidency, 268. 

2 Curtis, Buchanan, II., 379. 



foreign affairs of a country on a radical plat- 

The first annual message of Buchanan, December, 
1857, stigmatized filibustering as "robbery and mur- 
der," and recommended that Congress take the mat- 
ter in hand. 1 This was characteristic of Buchanan, 
to take strong ground in a public message and end by 
laying all responsibility upon Congress. At that very 
moment, Walker, still claiming to be president of 
Nicaragua, travelled in the south as a popular hero, 
raised a new expedition, and prepared to try his luck 
again on the isthmus. The Central American min- 
isters sent heated protests, and Walker was compelled 
to give bonds for two thousand dollars to obey the 
laws; but, undisturbed by Buchanan's censure, he 
evaded federal collectors and attorneys and sailed to 
the San Juan River in November, 1857. Here his 
career was brought to a sudden halt, for before he 
could invade Nicaragua his force was taken prisoner 
by Commodore Paulding, of the United States navy, 
and brought back to the country they had left. 2 

A perfect hornet's-nest was raised about the ears 
of the unfortunate Paulding. He was denounced in 
the newspapers, pilloried in each House of Congress 
as guilty of high-handed outrage, and censured by 
Buchanan for exceeding his instructions and violat- 

1 Richardson, Messages and Papers, V., 448. 

2 Senate Exec. Docs., 35 Cong., 1 Sess., Nos. 13, 63; House Exec. 
Docs., 35 Cong., 1 Sess., No. 24; Richardson, Messages and Pa- 
pers, V., 466. 


ing the neutrality of a foreign country. But al- 
though Walker was instantly set at liberty, and, 
when tried for violating the neutrality laws, was 
promptly acquitted by a New Orleans jury, the 
result of Paulding's action proved decisive. 1 Nica- 
ragua formally thanked the United States, dis- 
avowed a grant to a rival French canal scheme, and, 
with Costa Rica, revoked hostile decrees recently 
issued against the United States. Walker was not 
able to renew his filibustering until i860, when he 
met his death in an expedition against Honduras, 
and by that time a settlement of the isthmian dif- 
ficulty had been attained through diplomatic chan- 

The Dallas-Clarendon treaty, which was pending 
when Buchanan assumed office, was amended by the 
Senate so as to eliminate any reference to the pro- 
posed treaty between Honduras and Great Britain, 
and left standing a simple recognition of the sover- 
eignty of Honduras over the Bay Islands. This in 
turn was rejected by her majesty's government, and, 
after a fruitless attempt to renew the treaty in a 
form acceptable to both sides, affairs seemed to have 
come to a deadlock. A treaty with Nicaragua, made 
by Cass, which gave the United States the right to 
defend the canal route in case of war, while still 
guaranteeing its neutrality, failed to make the situa- 
tion any clearer. 2 Buchanan then turned, as usual, 

1 Senate Exec. Does., 35 Cong., 2 Sess., No. 10. 

2 Travis, Clayton-Bulwer Treaty, 183. 



2 57 

to Congress, and in his first message intimated that 
an abrogation of the Clayton-Bulwer treaty would 
be the only solution. 1 

This threat spurred the British government to 
action. Lord Napier and Sir William Ouseley, at 
Washington, pointed out the embarrassments of re- 
turning to the condition of things in 1849, and urged 
arbitration of the true meaning of the treaty. They 
observed, also, that if the treaty were abrogated 
Great Britain would of course be left free to consult 
her own interests on the isthmus, a remark which 
had a calming effect upon Cass and Buchanan. 2 The 
idea of renewing the scramble of 1 848-1 850 was dis- 
tinctly unwelcome to either of them, and so, al- 
though declining to arbitrate, they agreed to wait, 
provided Great Britain would seek to conclude 
treaties with the Central American states on the 
lines of the American contention. 3 

This plan was actually carried out, and between 
1857 and i860 Great Britain made conventions set- 
tling the boundaries of Belize, ceding the Bay Islands 
to Honduras and the Mosquito protectorate to Nica- 
ragua, on condition of self-government for the ceded 
regions and an annual subvention, in default of which 
Great Britain could again intervene. Little as these 
treaties accorded with the adjustment which Clayton 

1 Travis, Clayton-Bulwer Treaty, 177-181; Richardson, Mes- 
sages and Papers, V., 444. 

2 Clarendon to Ouseley, November 19, 1857, British and For. 
State Papers, XLVII., 729, 737. 

3 British and For. State Papers, XLVII., 701. 


supposed he was making in 1850, or the claims put 
forward by Marcy, they were accepted and pro- 
claimed by Buchanan as " a final settlement entirely 
satisfactory to this Government." 1 

Buchanan's habitual waiting upon Congress in 
matters of importance effectually prevented any re- 
sumption of Cuban diplomacy during his term. In his 
second annual message, December, 1858, Buchanan 
repeated, although in milder tones, the arguments of 
the Ostend Manifesto, not forgetting to refer to cir- 
cumstances which might render the seizure of the 
island justifiable under "the law of self-preserva- 
tion." 2 In response to his request for congressional 
support, a bill for the appropriation of thirty millions 
for the purchase of Cuba was introduced into the 
Senate, but it was never brought to a decisive vote. 3 
Again, in his third message, December, 1859, Bu- 
chanan laid the matter before Congress, but without 
avail. The result was that no action whatever was 
taken regarding Cuba, in spite of the language of the 
Democratic platform. Even an attempt to settle 
the vexatious losses of American citizens at the 
hands of Cuban officials was blocked because the 
Senate refused to accept a convention with Spain on 
the ground of its inclusion of the Amistad claim. 

Towards Mexico, where the Conservative or Cleri- 

1 Richardson, Messages and Papers, V., 639; Travis, Clayton- 
Bulwer Treaty, 201; Keasbey, Nicaragua Canal, 252-263. 

2 Richardson, Messages and Papers, V., 510. 
8 3ee p. 241, above. 



cal party, in the course of chronic civil war, had 
been guilty of numerous outrages upon American 
citizens, Buchanan recommended the adoption of 
drastic measures. In 1858 he suggested that the 
United States assume a protectorate over the north- 
ern part of Mexico ; and in 1859 he asked for author- 
ity to invade the country to restore order. Needless 
to say, such suggestions were entirely unwelcome to 
the northern members of Congress, and were ignored. 
The Senate would not even consider two treaties of 
1859, by which the United States was to assume 
claims against Mexico in return for commercial con- 
cessions, and allowed the proposed agreements to 
die unnoticed. 1 

In one case only did Buchanan gain the backing 
he sought. In response to a recommendation in the 
message of 1857, Congress authorized an expedition 
to Paraguay, which sailed with nineteen vessels, 
forced an apology for an insult offered to the United 
States steamer Water Witch in 1855, gained a com- 
mercial treaty, and made an agreement for a com- 
mission to investigate an American claim for dam- 
ages. 2 This success over the small and distant 
Paraguay was the only positive action in external 
affairs which even remotely carried out the spirit 
of the Democratic platform. 

1 Buchanan, Buchanan's Administration, 267-286; Wilson, 
"Buchanan's Proposed Intervention in Mexico," in Am. Hist. 
Rev., V., 686. 

2 Moore, Arbitrations, 1485; Buchanan, Buchanan's Adminis- 
tration, 264. 


In the far east the United States secured diplo- 
matic victories during Buchanan's term, but only 
by the ordinary methods of negotiation, directed 
with caution and shrewdness. In China the Cush- 
ing treaty of 1845 had not proved wholly adequate, 
and a succession of American ministers had worn 
out their patience trying to secure a new commercial 
treaty with a Chinese government whose foreign min- 
ister refused even an interview. When, in 1 856-1 858, 
England and France became involved in war with 
China, and their vessels bombarded the Barrier forts, 
the United States managed to profit by the circum- 
stances. Cass declined participation in the allied 
attack, but Reed, the American minister, steering 
his own course, succeeded in securing a treaty of 
commerce in June, 1858, which was solemnly rati- 
fied the next year. 1 At the same time, additional 
privileges were gained from Japan by treaties con- 
cluded in 1857 and 1859 through Townsend Harris. 2 
As a result of these Oriental negotiations, our com- 
mercial relations were placed on a better footing 
than ever before, a worthy diplomatic success, gain- 
ed without committing the country to any belligerent 
foreign policy. 

In another quarter, also, a diplomatic success may 
be credited to Buchanan and Cass, although won in 
a field where little glory was to be reaped. In the 

1 Callahan, Am, Relations in the Pacific, 101-104; Foster, Am. 
Diplomacy in the Orient, 225. 

2 Griffis, Harris, 172-325; Nitobe, U. 5. and Japan, 64-69. 




years before i860, there took place a sharp rise in 
the price of slaves, and, in consequence, the African 
slave-trade to Cuba and the United States increased 
surprisingly. The law was violated with impunity, 
and Buchanan's administration seemed unable or 
unwilling to prevent the traffic. But when British 
cruisers, in 1857 and 1858, searched suspected Amer- 
ican vessels, not only off the coast of Africa, but 
even in the Gulf of Mexico, the administration 
roused itself and protested strenuously against this 
renewed claim to a right of search. 1 Secretary 
Toucey ordered United States men-of-war to pro- 
ceed to Cuban waters to protect American vessels 
from " outrage," but the whole affair was ended with 
bewildering suddenness by the prompt admission of 
Lord Malmesbury to Dallas that the British govern- 
ment accepted entirely the principles laid down by 
Cass in his protests. This unexplained, voluntary 
concession of the point at issue was regarded by Cass 
and Buchanan as a great triumph. 2 It was followed 
by a long discussion over means of verifying the 
nationality of vessels so as to prevent abuse of the 
flag by slave-traders, but Cass adopted a negative 
attitude and nothing had been accomplished when 
Buchanan went out of office. The same was true 
regarding a disagreement which developed concern- 
ing the ownership of certain islands in Puget Sound 
which was left for a later administration to settle. 

1 Senate Exec. Does., 35 Cong., 1 Sess., No. 49. 
1 Ibid., 2 Sess., No. 1, 34-41. 



The diplomatic history of the decade 1 850-1 860 
cDncluded with defeat for territorial expansion in 
almost every quarter. The opportunity for em- 
barking the country upon an aggressive foreign 
policy, which seemed open at the beginning of 
Pierce's term, was lost when the Kansas-Nebraska 
act once more stirred up sectional antagonism. 
Cuba still remained under the Spanish yoke and 
American losses in the island remained unsettled. 
Mexico continued to seethe in her internal conflicts 
without intervention from her neighbor, but from 
the northeastern frontier to the Central American 
isthmus no further cause of controversy appeared. 
By luck or diplomatic skill, by violence or com- 
promise, a settlement had been attained of every 
serious diplomatic controversy. 



THE life of the people of the northern states, in- 
cluding under this term the border slave states, 
was not wholly concerned with politics and indus- 
trial activity, although profoundly influenced by 
them both. It had its ow T n current, a mingled one, 
in which may be discerned two streams, one the 
continuation of the American intellectual and demo- 
cratic renaissance which began after the second war 
with England, and the other a growth of new ten- 
dencies, arising from new social conditions and des- 
tined to alter the face of American society. 

In many ways this decade may be regarded as the 
culmination of that outburst of national conscious- 
ness and self-assertion which transformed politics in 
the days of Andrew Jackson. Democracy now ruled 
unchallenged in public life and thought, the democ- 
racy, that is, of Jefferson and Jackson, which stopped 
short of including the negro, however much it em- 
phasized the equality of the white man. By this 
time the states had completed the remodelling of 
their constitutions, and only a few serious changes 

VOL. XVIII. — 18 




were left to the years after 1850. Nearly every- 
where state offices, including the judiciary, had been 
made elective, terms had been shortened, qualifica- 
tions other than manhood and residence abolished, 
and the final decision in matters of supreme impor- 
tance in the public eye, such as the permission to 
charter banks or the extension of the suffrage, left 
to popular referendum. 

In federal politics, state rights enjoyed supreme 
prestige, receiving the tribute not only of the south 
but of northern statesmen and political organiza- 
tions. In Congress, adherence to a strict construc- 
tion of the constitution was a commonplace of 
speeches on all subjects, and stood as the approved 
principle of deciding all public questions, at least in 
theory. By the judiciary, also, the doctrine of state 
rights was treated with respect and solemnity, and 
only a few individuals in any branch of the federal 
service ventured to employ the political conceptions 
of the Federalists or of the older generation of Whigs. 
The same Jacksonian democracy continued to ap- 
pear in the attitude of the United States towards for- 
eign countries, as illustrated in the bold words of 
Webster and Marcy and Huelsemann and in the cir- 
cular on diplomatic costume. 

By the year i860, Jacksonism in politics had 
triumphed throughout the north and west. The 
Republican and Democratic organizations, which 
confronted each other, differed in no respect of 
machinery or control. Each was fully democratic 


in structure and leadership, and relied upon the 
same appeal to the sentiments and interests of the 
masses which had carried Jackson to victory in 
1828 and were now universal. 1 

The last stronghold of conservatism fell in the 
north when the Whig party collapsed under the ex- 
citement of the anti-Nebraska campaign, and the 
tumultuous, parvenu organization of the Know- 
No things arose on its ruins. The aristocracy of the 
"Cotton Whigs" remained excluded from politics, a 
class of cultured, conservative gentlemen who dis- 
liked slavery and were loath to see it extended, but 
who disliked radicalism, hard words, and bad man- 
ners still more, and were unable to overlook these 
qualities in the new anti-slavery organizations of the 
Know - Nothings or the Republicans. " I deplore 
the passage of the Nebraska act," said Robert C. 
Winthrop, of Massachusetts, " but I honestly believe 
that Northern rashness and violence have been the 
main instruments in accomplishing its worst results. 
. . . Anti-slavery agitation has introduced a strain 
of vituperation and defamation into our discussions 
which is perfectly unendurable"; and again: "I 
have an unchangeable conviction that intemperate 
anti-slavery agitation has been a source of a very 
large part of the troubles by which our country has 
been disturbed." 2 

In the world of thought the years between 1850 

1 Ostrogorski, Political Organization, II., 92-1 11. 

s Winthrop, Memoir of Robt. C. Winthrop, 181, 189, 193. 


and i860 marked the flood - tide of the literary 
movement which began thirty years before. With 
the exception of Poe, who died in 1849, and Cooper, 
who died in 1851, nearly all the writers who first 
created American literature were at their prime. 
Within these years the New England poets produced 
some of their most enduring and popular works. 
Longfellow published the ' 1 Golden Legend," " Hia- 
watha," and "Miles Standish"; Whittier, although 
immersed in the anti-slavery cause, issued Songs of 
Labor and made a collection of his poetical works, 
as did Bryant, likewise an anti-slavery leader. In 
1857 a new periodical, The Atlantic Monthly, was 
established as an especial representative for New 
England culture by Lowell, aided by Emerson, 
Holmes, and others ; and soon the ' ' Autocrat of the 
Breakfast-Table" was enlivening its pages, together 
with essays by Lowell, the editor, and poems and 
essays by Emerson. At the same time, Hawthorne 
reached the summit of his genius in the Scarlet 
Letter at one end of the decade and the Marble Faun 
at the other. Apart from these writers, but none 
the less a product of the period, stood two others: 
Thoreau, whose Walden, in 1854, was the last word 
of democratic individualism, and Whitman, whose 
Leaves of Grass, in 1855, carried the doctrine of 
democracy to the pitch of mysticism. Beside 
these older writers stood younger ones just com- 
ing into prominence — Bayard Taylor, George Will- 
iam Curtis, Mrs. Stowe, and a number of lesser 


lights who seemed destined to be worthy successors 
in poetry or prose. 

In other literary lines the same fertility of Ameri- 
can genius appeared. Bancroft, in 1852, resumed, 
after a pause of twelve years, his History of the 
United States, Hildreth completed his History of the 
United States a little later, Prescott wrote his Philip 
II. and Irving his Life of Washington at the same 
time, and three new historians of great distinction 
appeared — Parkman, whose Conspiracy of Pontiac 
came out in 1851; Motley, whose Dutch Republic 
began in 1856; and Palfrey, whose New England was 
issued in 1858. Other writers entered the field of 
political economy — Bowen in 1856, and Bascom and 
Henry C. Carey in 1859; Lieber wrote his Civil 
Liberty and Self -Government in the earlier years of 
the period, and Woolsey his International Law in the 
later ones. In the regions of abstract thought, Way- 
land's Elements of Intellectual Philosophy appeared 
in 1854, and Bushnell's Nature and the Supernatural 
in 1858. In all fields of literary effort it seemed as 
though the flowering- time of American thought and 
scholarship had arrived. The reading public of the 
ante-bellum world, not distracted by any great flood 
of cheap, entertaining, ephemeral reading - matter, 
enjoyed a far purer intellectual life and were habit- 
uated to a more purely literary culture than was the 
case at a later time. 

Side by side with the culmination of the literary 
renaissance of the first half of the century came the 


full development of the intellectual restlessness 
which for a generation had been producing a suc- 
cession of reform movements of numberless kinds. 
Revolutionary radicalism pervaded all fields, in re- 
ligion, politics, and morals, making of the ten years 
before the Civil War an era of agitation scarcely 
paralleled before or since. Socialism of the earlier, 
communistic type was seen to be showing signs of 
weakness, and most of the Fourierist or similar ex- 
periments started in earlier years now broke down ; 
but in its place came a new revolutionary socialism 
from Europe, founded by German immigrants. More 
characteristic of the period was the advocacy of 
absolute personal independence and freedom from 
any constraint in mind or body, by the individualist, 
who carried his logic of liberty to the point of com- 
plete anarchism — the " Come-outer," as he was gen- 
erally styled in those days. 

Probably the most aggressive reform movement 
at this time, and certainly the most conspicuous, 
was the agitation for women's rights, and especially 
woman suffrage, which filled the place in public 
esteem formerly held by the abolitionists. Num- 
bers of devoted women, burning to emancipate their 
sex, undertook to begin by emancipating themselves, 
and while attempting to enter all sorts of callings — 
the law, the ministry, medicine — felt also obliged to 
manifest their personal freedom and rationalism in 
other less vital but still more conspicuous ways. 
Short hair and the " Bloomer costume," in the early 


fifties, were adopted as signs of intellectual liberty 
by some, and brought upon the advocates of the 
movement an amount of popular ridicule and coarse 
abuse which no other action could have attracted. 
Such women as the Reverend Antoinette Brown, 
Dr. Lucy Stone, and Miss Susan B. Anthony were 
regarded by the conservative with no less horror 
than the irrepressible and eccentric Abby Kelly. 1 

There were not lacking men to enter the women's- 
rights movement with equal fervor, and these, with 
their coworkers of the other sex, labored incessantly 
by lecturing and by endeavoring to participate in all 
sorts of meetings where women were not usually 
in evidence, to emphasize their rights and demand 
equality. Some few aberrant members of this cru- 
sade adopted the doctrine of Free Love and pro- 
claimed a sort of logical anarchism in the relations 
of the sexes, making a stir out of all proportion to 
their numbers. Great notoriety was gained by a 
convention at Rutland, Vermont, on June 25, 1858, 
in which all varieties of reformers took part — aboli- 
tionists, spiritualists, woman-suffragists, and the like 
— and certain speakers made a public advocacy of 
the abolition of the marriage tie as a bar to human 
progress and the equality of the sexes. 2 

Radicalism in religion was now actively advocated 
by a host of speakers, the most prominent of whom 

harper, Susan B. Anthony, I., 57-205; Stanton, Anthony, 
Gage, Hist, of Woman Suffrage, I., chaps, vi.-viii., xiii., xiv. 
2 N. Y. Tribune, June 29, 1858. 



was Theodore Parker, then at the height of his fame 
and influence in Boston, a man of passionate anti- 
slavery zeal and a genius for polemics of any kind. 
The craze for conventions, which made the life of 
the professional agitator a series of meetings with 
his fellow-reformers, showed itself in this field — for 
instance, in a convention held at Hartford, Connect- 
icut, in June, 1858. The object of this meeting, 
"for the purpose of freely canvassing the origin, 
authority and influence of the Jewish and Christian 
Scriptures," appeared so blasphemous to the con- 
servative that it was denounced by the press of the 
country as an abomination, and was mobbed by the 
students of a neighboring denominational college, 
results which served only to whet the zeal of the 
"Free thinkers," as they styled themselves. 1 

The natural tendency was for these various re- 
forms to blend together, from the fact that those 
who were radically inclined in one direction were 
generally favorably disposed to reforms in all others. 
The woman- suffragist was likely to be an advocate 
of temperance, abolition, and free religion, so that 
when conservative people lumped the entire field of 
reform activity under the heading of "the isms," 
and spoke of the leaders as " the short-haired women 
and the long-haired men," there was a certain justi- 
fication. Susan B. Anthony, for instance, devoted 
herself almost equally to temperance, anti-slavery, 
and women's rights; Garrison, in the Liberator, 
1 Garrisons, Garrison, III., 383. 




while especially interested in abolition, sympathized 
warmly with every other reforming movement and 
was a leader in the woman's -rights field. There 
were, of course, many persons, especially in the west, 
whose anti-slavery action was not the result of icon- 
oclastic radicalism, as was shown by the numerous 
"Christian Anti-Slavery Conventions" held in Ohio, 
Indiana, and elsewhere in 1850 and later, but the 
substantial unity of all reformers as radicals was the 
popular impression of the time. 

Besides this ultra-individualistic and rationalistic 
free thought, there sprang up certain social move- 
ments arising from a mystical or superstitious crav- 
ing. Millerism had had its day in the previous dec- 
ade, but spiritualism, founded in 1848, rapidly grew 
to conspicuous proportions and seemed to be filling 
the place of a distinct religious sect. Its adhe- 
rents, like all the other reformers, held conventions 
or conferences in numerous places, published spirit- 
ualistic papers, and claimed vaguely to number one 
or two millions of adherents. 1 The American rever- 
ence for congressional action was strikingly shown 
when, in 1854, the members of this sect presented a 
petition to the Senate, signed by fifteen thousand 
names, asking for the appointment of a commission 
to investigate the phenomena of "occult forces." 
Senator Shields, of Illinois, presented the memorial 
in a speech of some length, but in the debate which 
followed no senator proved so courageous as to de- 
1 Podmore, Modern Spiritualism, 303. 

2 7 2 


fend the cause of table -tipping and spirit-rapping, 
and after many humorous and some contemptuous 
comments, and a facetious attempt to refer the me- 
morial to the committee on foreign affairs, it was 
allowed to drop. Spiritualism remained without the 
governmental sanction its adherents hoped to secure. 

Practical philanthropy went hand-in-hand with 
radical agitation. It was in these years that the 
great work of Dorothea Dix, in securing the reor- 
ganization and proper construction of asylums for 
the insane, was carried through. It comprised one 
almost tragic disappointment; for when, in 1854, 
after years of effort, Miss Dix finally succeeded in 
getting through Congress a bill granting ten million 
acres of public lands for the purpose of aiding the 
states to care for their insane, President Pierce 
vetoed the gift as unconstitutional on grounds of 
strictest state -rights doctrine. Nevertheless, the 
results accomplished by Miss Dix's campaign were 
epoch-making in the history of public charity, espe- 
cially in the south and west. 1 

All these reforming and radical movements, it 
should be said in conclusion, found their outlet not 
only in special publications, but on the lecture plat- 
form, an institution then in its prime. Over the new 
railways into all parts of the country travelled the 
foremost literary men and the most eloquent re- 
formers of the time, spreading the gospel of intel- 
lectual enlightenment in all quarters. Such men as 

1 Tiffany, Dorothea Dix, 135-200, 307-330. 


Holmes, Lowell, Emerson, and George William Cur- 
tis were active alongside of prominent clergymen like 
Henry Ward Beecher, temperance reformers, aboli- 
tionists, and whatever other speakers local " Lyce- 
ums" were ready to listen to. In this way the pub- 
lic, not yet absorbed in magazine reading, found its 
intellectual stimulus, and the national sentiment 
and new culture of the first half of the nineteenth 
century its expression. 

Side by side with the culmination of the national 
expression in government, politics, and intellectual 
life, began the development of social habits due to 
the new industrialism of the decade — the railways, 
the telegraph, and the influx of California gold. 
The new business-man came on the stage, his whole 
nature concentrated in competitive production or 
distribution. He filled the cities, accompanied the 
railroads into all corners of the north, and turned 
into wealth-getting the keenness and vigor of an 
unexhausted race. Then, too, appeared the new 
figure of "Labor," of the man who expected always 
to live as wage-earner, and joined with his fellows 
to protect his interests. The first national unions 
of local labor organizations all date from this time, 
and the first great railway strike was that on the 
Erie road in 1857. 1 

Still another new social element strikingly appar- 
ent in this decade was that of the Irish and German 
immigrants who came to this country, trained in 
- 1 Ely, Labor Movement, 57-60. 



no school of Jacksonian democracy, but bringing 
the traditions of a defiant and bitter revolutionary 
republicanism. The presence of large numbers of 
brawling, ignorant, clannish Irish, not long enough 
escaped from sordid poverty to have any conception 
of American ideals, made an indelible impression 
upon Americans at this time. Scarcely less unwel- 
come to the conservative was the spectacle-wearing, 
beer-drinking, Sunday-despising German peasant or 
petty townsman. The Know - Nothing movement 
sprang from a real sense of alarm and dislike felt 
by dwellers in city and country towards these alien 
arrivals. The literature and the periodicals of the 
fifties are filled with allusions to the Irish and Ger- 
mans, betraying the mingled tolerance and aversion 
felt towards their habits. The types of the Irishman 
and the German, fixed in American humor and on 
the American stage, take their origin from these 
years. The Germans, however, brought with them a 
higher grade of education and culture, and from the 
start the more educated among them rose rapidly 
to positions of prominence in politics and society. 

Now all these new types and social elements were 
cast into a rapidly changing world. The extension 
of railways and telegraphs to cover the north and 
penetrate the south introduced the factor of speed 
into business to a degree never experienced before. 
It became worth while to hurry when competition 
was possible, not only from near at hand but from a 
distance. Speculation offered glittering chances of 


wealth, to be gained in a few years where formerly 
half a lifetime would have been inadequate. The 
California gold craze simply exaggerated the current 
conviction that the day had come when it was pos- 
sible for any one to acquire riches quickly. The 
time was at hand when American society was to be 

Already, in these years, observers noted the de- 
velopment of a pleasure-seeking class. The new 
wealth had to be spent, and the American world of 
the years before 1850 had not been called upon to 
create fashionable amusements. 1 Those who had 
leisure found no athletic, hunting, or rural traditions 
to fall back upon, except in the south, where, indeed, 
the newly rich were not so often found. Baseball, 
soon to be the national game, was scarcely heard of, 
and the first intercollegiate boat-races appeared only 
in 1852. Yachting was known in the harbors and 
along the coasts, but was not the sport of any large 
numbers. The winning of the Queen's Cup by the 
America, in 1851, marked an epoch in international 
racing, but it was not as yet the object of wide- 
spread Interest. It was a continual comment of for- 
eign observers and domestic critics that Americans 
did not know how to play or exercise, and in con- 
sequence were dyspeptic, physically weak, and ner- 
vously irritable. 2 

"Society" had to find diversion in dancing, eat- 

1 Rhodes, United States, III., 80. 

2 See evidence collected in ibid., III., 66. 


ing, drinking, smoking, the theatre and opera, and 
the national sport of horse-trotting, with its accom- 
panying betting. Even the great "resorts" which 
appeared at this time — Newport, Saratoga, Sharon 
Springs — with their immense hotels, existed simply 
for the purpose, according to observers, of enabling 
people to herd together and drink, smoke, flirt, and 
dance the more easily. 1 Of course, this was at the 
same time arousing a genuine love for the beauties of 
wild nature, and the public which read Starr King's 
poetic descriptions of the White Hills, in 1859, was in- 
spired by the same feelings which have since turned 
American society into the country and the wilderness 
every summer and autumn. Still, it was an era of 
bad taste in Europe in things social, and the influ- 
ence of the court of Napoleon III. was stronger with 
American fashionable society than was the example 
of the staider court of Victoria and Albert. 

It was a common observation that display and at- 
tempts at individual luxury preceded public comfort. 
The cities of the north grew greatly in size, but they 
continued to be poorly paved and lighted and ill-sup- 
plied with water. Street-cars, however, in this dec- 
ade first began to replace the slow-moving omnibuses 
hitherto customary, and their growth was rapid. 

The altered conditions of American life were re- 
flected in the newspaper press of the country. 

1 Rhodes, United States, III., 75-82; Curtis, Lotus-Eating, 105- 
123, 166-176; Harper's Mag., department called ' 4 Easy Chair," 
1857, 1858. 




Hitherto the chief reason for newspapers had been 
to direct political activity; but now this function 
was to a large degree superseded by the task of 
furnishing commercial information to business-men 
and farmers. Already the zeal for promptness and 
priority of news made possible by the railway and 
telegraph, and appreciated in a hurrying commu- 
nity, had been introduced into the newspaper world 
by Bennett and the New York Herald. Although the 
paper whose standing depended upon its news and 
its advertisements and not upon its editorial page 
was in existence, the term " news" had not yet been 
extended to include all discoverable local items, 
trivial as well as significant. That phase of jour- 
nalism was still in the future. 

The editorial page, however, still held an impor- 
tant place, particularly in an epoch of such political 
excitement, and the leading editors of the great city 
dailies and weeklies were men of a prominence and 
weight not enjoyed by their successors. Greeley, of 
the Tribune ; Raymond, of the Times ; Bryant, of 
the Evening Post, in New York; Bowles, of the 
Springfield Republican; Medill, of the Chicago Tri- 
bune, and their fellows, made the ante-bellum press 
a real power in the political world. The Washington 
correspondent, also, held a position of greater influ- 
ence then than later, notably such men as Pike, of 
the Tribune, and Simonton, of the Times. 1 Among 
these journalists the most influential, without doubt, 

1 Hudson, Journalism, 431, 540, 618. 



was Greeley. Eccentric in person, a curious com- 
pound of shrewdness and vanity in temperament, he 
was gifted with a power of expression in terse, vivid 
English, marked by a downright earnestness of anti- 
slavery feeling which made his editorials and letters 
more popular than the utterances of any other single 
man. The Tribune was the political Bible of anti- 
slavery Whigs, and, later, of Republicans throughout 
New York and the middle west. 

A striking result of the greater intensity of the 
new industrial life, together with the lack of physical 
health, was the growth of excitability in the Ameri- 
cans of the time. Waves of popular frenzy were no 
new thing, for they had been known since the Stamp 
Act, but at no time were they so prevalent as in these 
years, and they were now accompanied by popular 
crazes of a non-political character to an extent which 
filled conservative people with bewilderment. In 
1850-1855 the temperance movement swept the 
country in the Maine-law agitation ; then came the 
anti-Nebraska fever, followed by the Know-No thing 
riots and excitement, the Kansas crusade, and the 
Lecompton struggle, each of which rose, raged, and 
declined from exhaustion. In 1857 the financial 
panic swept like a fire across the land, and it was 
followed in 1858 by a wide-spread religious revival, 
the last one to arouse all sections of the north. 

Hitherto unknown manifestations of excitement 
were called forth by the visits of interesting foreign- 
ers in these years, notably by Jenny Lind, in 1850, 


and Kossuth, in 1852. These did not rest ultimately 
upon any especial musical susceptibility in Ameri- 
cans nor on any absorbing sympathy with Hungary, 
but on the love of being excited, of uniting with one's 
neighbors in experiencing a thrill in a fashion later 
commonly termed hysterical. Ampere, who saw the 
Kossuth excitement, remarked: " Je vois que dans 
cette ivresse, entrait pour beaucoup ce besoin d'ex- 
citation, de manifestations bruyantes, qui est le seul 
amusement vif de la multitude dans un pays ou 
Ton ne s'amuse guere. Ce vacarme est sans conse- 
quence et sans danger." 1 

These years were times of ferment — with the con- 
tinued radicalism of the past, the flowering of the 
literary genius of the land, the sweep of popular 
crazes, and above and around all the zest and fas- 
cination of the new industrial and agricultural out- 
look. In spite of the Kansas question, the slavery 
problem was not the only nor even the most impor- 
tant subject in popular interest, except for brief 
periods; and it was never regarded at any time as 
anything but an unpleasant interruption except by 
the professed agitators. Nevertheless, in these years 
the attitude of the northern people towards the 
south underwent a distinct change. In 1850 the 
great majority of voters were not ready to let their 
dislike of slavery draw them into any permanent an- 
tagonism towards the south, and they were eager to 
welcome any fair compromise. But by i860 the re- 

1 Ampere, Promenade en Amerique, II., 53. 

VOL. XVIII. — 19 


peal of the Missouri Compromise, the Kansas strug- 
gle, and the controversy over the Lecompton consti- 
tution had stirred up a deep sectional feeling, based 
on anger at what was considered the perfidy and 
aggressiveness of the south in seeking to establish 
slavery in free territory. 1 

This irritation had now hardened into a fixed pur- 
pose to force slavery to remain in the regions which 
it already occupied, and to eliminate pro-slavery 
men from their control of the central government. 
This feeling, it is clear, could not be considered 
aggressive, for the idea of interfering with slavery in 
the southern states was hardly entertained. It was 
rather defensive and sectional, directed against the 
encroachments of the " slave power," or, as it was 
frequently called, the " slaveocracy." The current 
northern feeling was that unless the south were 
checked it would insist on protection to its slaves, 
not only in the territories, but in the free states. 
It was widely, although erroneously, believed that 
Toombs had boasted that he would live to call the 
roll of his slaves at the foot of Bunker Hill monu- 
ment, and the Dred Scott decision was looked upon 
as a step in the process of making slavery national. 

The people of the north did not like the slave- 
holders, did not understand them, and had no desire 
to do so. The peculiarities of the southern code of 
manners created a belief that they were a race of 

1 For earlier phases of this subject, see Hart, Slavery and Abo- 
lition {Am. Nation, XVI.), chaps, xvi.-xix. , xxi. 




faithless, blustering, cruel slave - drivers ; and the 
figure of a Henry Clay, once popular at the north, 
was hidden behind that of a " Border Ruffian." 
An influence of incalculable effect in establishing 
this opinion of slavery and slave -owners was the 
novel of Uncle Tom's Cabin. Published in 1852, 
it achieved an unparalleled success from the start, 
edition after edition being absorbed by a public gone 
wild over the humor and the tragedy of the work. 
Although based in every detail upon facts, it was 
not, as enraged southerners kept insisting, a fair 
representation of the slave system; but it was not 
intended so to be. It showed in literary guise the 
possibilities of horror and tragedy rooted in the in- 
stitution, and it fixed in the north, as no other one 
influence did, the popular ideal of slavery. In her 
astonishment at the popular enthusiasm, Mrs. Stowe 
wrote : " The success of what I have written has been 
so singular and so unexpected . . . that I scarce 
retain a self-consciousness and am constrained to 
look upon it all as the work of a Higher Power, who 
when he pleases, can accomplish his results by the 
feeblest instruments." 1 

By i860 the institution of slavery had few de- 
fenders at the north, and some of the foremost Re- 
publicans, such as Lincoln and Seward, did not 
hesitate to express sentiments which a few years 
earlier would have been regarded as ultra -radical. 
Undoubtedly thousands now agreed with them that 
1 Stowe, Stowe, 166. 


the contest with slavery was an irreconcilable one, 
and must end eventually with its extinction; but 
the actual, technical abolitionists still remained few. 
The small group led by Garrison, Phillips, and others 
had taken the form of a sect, united by a creed 
and judging all others by their beliefs. This creed 
was a complete logical structure whose fundamental 
assumption was that slavery was a sin, and that the 
duty of every man was to do his utmost to destroy 
it. The feature upon which the abolitionists laid 
great weight, was getting rid of personal responsi- 
bility. "Our duty is first personal, in regard to 
ourselves," wrote Garrison. "We are to see to it 
that we make no truce with slavery either directly 
or by implication, . . . that our hands are clean and 
our consciences without condemnation." 1 This was 
done by bearing witness against it, refusing to obey 
any laws recognizing it, rejecting the authority of 
the federal government which recognized it, refusing 
fellowship with any slave-holder or any person who 
upheld slavery, and by advocating the separation of 
the free from the slave states. 

The programme of the ultra -abolitionists was with- 
out any relation to actual events, and could not, in 
the nature of things, attract ordinary people, hence 
they remained few in number, taking consolation, 
as every small sect must do, in a certain complacency 
over their own doings. Throughout the years 1850- 

1 Garrisons, Garrison, III., 444; cf. Hart, Slavery and Abolition 
{Am. Nation, XVI.), chap. xii. 


i860 Garrison continued to criticise the course of 
public affairs, mercilessly applying his standards of 
unbending abolitionism to every man and giving 
scant sympathy to even those hotly engaged on the 
northern side in the slavery controversy so long as 
they did not act from purely anti- slavery motives. 
The distrust which Chase felt towards Douglas, when 
he found him opposing the Lecompton constitution, 
Garrison and Phillips applied to Chase himself. Yet, 
although this attitude of unyielding radicalism did 
not win converts, the abolitionists did exercise a 
very great indirect influence, since their steady repe- 
tition of their one idea kept it before the public, and 
even their extravagances — such as the public burn- 
ing of the Constitution by Garrison, in 1854 — served 
to force home their detestation of the slave system 
and of the men who maintained it. Their idealiza- 
tion of the negro, whom they held to be equal in all 
respects to the white man, found little sympathy in 
the north, but their hatred of the slave-owner struck 
a responsive note, and from their denunciations of 
the slave system undoubtedly grew the popular idea 
of slavery as always and everywhere monstrous and 

The altered feelings of the north on the .subject 
of "southern aggressions" showed themselves not 
only in the formation of the Republican party, but 
in numerous other ways equally exasperating to the 
south, as they were intended to be. The fugitive- 
slave law, at first reluctantly accepted, was later the 



object of continual attack and obstruction from the 
northern people, moved partly by sympathy for 
the fugitives, but equally by a desire to thwart the 
pursuers. The Underground Railroad continued its 
activity with increased popular sympathy and as- 
sistance. 1 Rescues or attempted rescues of slaves 
were numerous, among the most famous being the 
attack on a federal court-house, in May, 1854, by a 
Boston mob, in a vain attempt to free Anthony 
Burns, an arrested fugitive. The return of this pris- 
oner was carried out under protection of state and 
federal troops, in the presence of a groaning, hissing 
crowd, and in later years every Massachusetts agent 
in the rendition was relentlessly hunted from politi- 
cal life. In Wisconsin, the same year, occurred the 
Booth case, which has already been referred to, 2 and 
in 1858 the so-called Oberlin - Wellington rescue, 
where a crowd of northern Ohio men, including a 
professor and students from Oberlin College, rescued 
a fugitive and were tried under the provisions of the 
act of 1850, until the vigorous interposition of the 
state authorities forced the federal government to 
drop the prosecution. 3 

In a still more aggravated form, this determina- 
tion to block the law in every way led to the enact- 
ment, by many states, of so-called " Personal Liberty 

1 Siebert, Underground Railroad, 318-320, 342. 

2 See above, chap. xiv. 

3 Siebert, Underground Railroad, 327-336, App. B; McDougal, 
Fugitive Slaves , 43-52, 124-128. 


Laws." These statutes, most of which were passed 
after the Know - Nothing and Republican parties 
gained control, prohibited the use of jails to confine 
fugitives, forbade state judges or other officers to 
aid in their capture, authorized the issue of writs of 
habeas corpus in case of arrests of alleged fugitives, 
provided for a jury trial, sometimes ordered state 
attorneys to act as counsel for fugitives, and im- 
posed heavy fines and imprisonment upon any per- 
son kidnapping a free man. 1 These laws certainly 
came near to nullifying the United States Constitu- 
tion, and their moral effect at the south was tremen- 
dous. They showed, as nothing else could, to what 
an extent sectional feeling had progressed, and an- 
nounced to the south that the fugitive - slave law 
could be executed only over the opposition of the 
northern people. 

By i860, therefore, the north, busily occupied with 
industrial expansion of all kinds, with reforms and 
with intellectual ferments, was growing all the time 
more and more conscious of its hostility towards the 
south and of its own strength to render that hostility 

'Johnston, "Personal Liberty Laws," in Lalor, Cyclopedia, 
III., 162; McDougal, Fugitive Slaves, 67-70; Parker, Personal 
Liberty Laws, 3-51; cf. Hart, Slavery and Abolition (Am. Nation, 
XVI.), chap. xix. 



IN the years immediately preceding the Civil War, 
the characteristic civilization of the southern 
states reached its culmination, making of the slave- 
holding area a region with most of the features 
of a separate national consciousness, a community 
little affected by the industrial, intellectual, and 
emotional influences which were transforming the 

The economic basis of southern society was now 
the culture of cotton, and, to a less degree, of corn, 
rice, and sugar, commodities which could be pro- 
duced with profit by slave labor. The railway ex- 
pansion of the south was mainly subsidiary to the 
agricultural industry, carrying cotton to the ports 
of export, and also bringing from the north those 
manufactured articles which the south was as un- 
able to produce in i860 as in the previous century. 
" Whence come your axes, hoes, scythes ?" asked Orr, 
of South Carolina. " Yes, even your plows, harrows, 
rakes, ax and auger handles? Your furniture, car- 


pets, calicos, and muslins? The cradle that rocks 
your infant to sweet slumbers — the top your boy 
spins — the doll your little girl caresses — the clothes 
your children wear — the books from which they are 
educated ... all are imported into South Carolina." 1 
With negroes as a large part of the real capital 
of the south, and the plantation as the normal form 
of investment, the social and economic structure of 
the slave states was almost impervious to the forces 
which were beginning to prevail in the north. The 
planter aristocracy remained at the top of the scale, 
its numbers small in comparison with the total popu- 
lation. In i860 it was estimated that there were 
only 384,753 slave-holding individuals, and of these 
less than one-half had more than five slaves and less 
than one-tenth as many as twenty. 2 Capital tended 
as always to concentrate in few hands. Associated 
with these were the professional classes and the 
financial element, which, although far less important 
than the similar class at the north, played an active 
part in the southern economy. Below these came 
the body of southern whites, some of whom were 
engaged in the relatively few railways, steamers, 
mills, and factories of the south, but most of whom 
were small farmers with a status shading off into 
that of the steady accompaniment of slavery, the 
"poor white trash." But few of the slave states re- 
ceived any of the flood of German and Irish immi- 

1 Charleston Courier, April 18, 1855. 

2 Ingle, Southern Side-Lights , 362. 


gration, since the lack of opportunity for free labor 
kept all such out of the cotton belt. 1 

Nothing had taken place since the eighteenth cen- 
tury to alter the ideals of the southerners, except 
the fact that in the interior and Gulf states the 
aristocracy of family was replaced by a more flexible 
aristocracy of wealth. 2 Although many large slave- 
owners were of humble origin, there yet existed 
within the planter class a sort of democratic fellow- 
ship, interrupted only by a few conservatives of the 
type of the Virginian who observed that " Whigs 
knew each other by the instincts of gentlemen." 3 

Social and political leadership rarely passed from 
the hands of this upper class. A career like that of 
Andrew Johnson, who, from being an illiterate tailor, 
rose to be twice elected governor of Tennessee and 
later senator, was altogether exceptional ; and such 
a book as Helper's Impending Crisis was an anom- 
aly. 4 Helper's thesis was that slavery depressed the 
poor whites and enabled the slave-owners to profit 
at their expense ; but whatever his hopes may have 
been of turning the non-slave-holding whites against 
the planter capitalists, he could not arouse them. 
Politics were an affair of leaders, who, when they 
differed, appealed to the voters, but did not consti- 
tute a class of office-brokers or machine organizers. 

1 For details, cf. Hart, Slavery and Abolition (Am. Nation, 
XVI.) , chap. v. 2 Brown, Lower South, 45. 

3 Wise, End of an Era, 58. 

4 Helper, Impending Crisis, 123-132, 149-154. 


The southern gentleman, in the years just before 
the war, stood as the product of an aristocratic soci- 
ety, a figure almost without a parallel at the north. 
No wealthy manufacturers, railway promoters, cap- 
italists, or business-men challenged his supremacy, 
and the whole of southern society took its tone 
from this master. The ideals of the southern gen- 
tleman were simple, and to the northerner scarcely 
comprehensible. 1 His interests were few — cotton, 
negroes, family life, neighborhood affairs, and poli- 
tics. Education, at one of the not very flourishing 
southern colleges or at one of the larger northern 
universities, was confined to a small number. The 
personal ideal of the southerner was usually ex- 
pressed by the word "chivalry," a term comprising 
the virtues of gallantry towards women, courtesy to 
inferiors, hospitality and generosity towards friends, 
personal courage, and a sensitive " honor." 

The code of the duel was still a sacred part of 
southern social standards, not usually defended in 
public, but practically exacted in private, and based 
upon ideals of "honor" not easily understood out- 
side the society wh ch upheld them. Jennings Wise, 
for instance, the son of Governor Wise, of Virginia, 
a man of "unaffected piety, naturalness, sincerity, 
and gentleness, a lover of children and so amiable 
that he never had a personal quarrel," felt himself 
obliged, when editing the Richmond Enquirer, to 
force a duel upon any one who criticised his father. 

1 Ingle, Southern Side-Lights, 29-32, 39-46. 


The result was no less than eight " hostile encoun- 
ters" in two years, which the public regarded as 
"natural and manly, evincing chivalry of the high- 
est order." 1 Sensitiveness to insult obliged the 
southerner to seek " satisfaction " of some kind ; and 
when he encountered men who recognized no code, 
but answered him with equal harshness, he felt 
obliged to employ personal violence, as in the case of 
Brooks and Sumner. This affair was strictly in ac- 
cord with southern standards, which approved instant 
vindication of injured "honor" by violence of any 
kind. 2 Murderous threats and shooting affrays, 
which struck a northerner with horror, were of every- 
day occurrence in many southern communities ; and 
nothing stood more in the way of mutual compre- 
hension. The refusal of the northerners to fight 
when challenged made the whole section appear to 
southerners as cowardly and ignoble, while the unre- 
strained anger and ready violence of the southerner 
impressed northern men as the brutality of a partly 
civilized bully. Yet the home life and domestic 
tenderness and courtesy of the same fiery southern- 
ers who fought duels and uttered threats were of a 
charm unimagined by their northern opponents, but 
proved by the testimony of innumerable witnesses. 3 
Upon such a society the intellectual upheaval of 

1 Wise, End of an Era, 90. 

2 Von Hoist, United States, V., 331 ; Olmsted, int. to Gladstone, 
Englishman in Kansas, pp. xviii., xix. 

3 Trent, int. to Olmsted , Seaboard States (ed. of 1904) , I., p. xxv. ; 
Page, Old South, 143. 


the time made little or no impression. The business 
hustle and hurry of the new industrial life faded 
away as one entered the land of cotton, and so did 
the other features of northern life of the decade. 
Orthodoxy in religion prevailed undisturbed at the 
south, and "isms" and reforms remained unknown 
there except when brought by such energetic in- 
vaders as Dorothea Dix, whose crusade for asylums 
for the insane stands almost alone in the south of 
that time. Spiritualism, communism, radicalism, 
all failed to grow in the south, and were almost as 
abhorrent to the planters as abolitionism itself. The 
crazes which swept the north stirred slight echoes 
there. Jenny Lind and Kossuth found less ecstatic 
hearers, the Maine law failed to convulse politics, and 
the Know-Nothing movement lacked spectacular 
features. Upon their superior sanity the southern 
journals often congratulated their readers in lan- 
guage not to be matched outside the Tory utterances 
of Europe. "In the North," said the Richmond 
Enquirer, "every village has its press and its lecture 
room, and each lecturer and editor, unchecked by a 
healthy public opinion, opens up for discussion all 
the received dogmas of faith. . . . The North fifty 
years ago was eminently conservative. Then it was 
well to send Southern youth to her colleges. She is 
now the land of infidelities and superstitions and is 
not to be trusted with the education of our sons 
and daughters." 1 

1 Richmond Enquirer, January 1, 1856. 



As a consequence, the south entered but feebly 
into the literary renaissance of the times, and in 
years when the New England school of writers was in 
its prime still struggled along with but the tenderest 
shoots of a local literature. Except William Gilmore 
Simms, whose prolific genius was still pouring out 
poems, romances, dramas, political articles, and mis- 
cellaneous productions, there was scarcely a southern 
writer known beyond a narrow circle. Southern 
magazines found it almost impossible to live, for the 
southern people were never great readers, and, when 
they subscribed to any periodical, commonly took 
Putnam's, Harper's, or the North American Review. 
Only the Southern Literary Messenger managed, with 
difficulty, to survive until the Civil War. 

As the growing divergence between the sections 
progressed, indignation was often expressed at the 
dependence of the south upon "abolitionist" publi- 
cations, and fervent appeals were made for the sup- 
port of distinctly southern writers and periodicals. 
" So long as we use such works as Way land's Moral 
Science," wrote one irritated southerner, "and the 
abolitionist geographies, readers, and histories, over- 
running as they do with all sorts of slanders, carica- 
tures and blood-thirsty sentiments, let us never com- 
plain of their use of that transitory romance [Uncle 
Tom's Cabin]. They seek to array our children by 
false ideas against the established ordinances of 
God." 1 But declamation and resolutions were fu- 
1 De Bow's Review, May, 1856, p. 661. 


tile to create a literature, and the south con- 
tinued to neglect its own authors and publish- 
ers. 1 

The only change brought by the years 1 850-1 860 
to the southern states was an intensification of their 
sense of common interests and common ideals re- 
sulting from the incessant slavery controversy. That 
southern sectionalism which existed from the forma- 
tion of the Union now developed into something 
approaching closely to a real national consciousness, 
evinced in innumerable ways ; and the term " The 
South" was as familiar in congressional and other 
speeches as " The United States " or the name of any 
single state, and carried an equal political signifi- 
cance. One form assumed by this new self-con- 
sciousness was that of a sectional " patriotism " and 
exaltation at the expense of the antagonistic north. 
Over southern society, people, manners, intelligence, 
courage, religious life, scenery, natural resources, and 
future prospects flowed an unceasing current of 
praise. "We expect true refinement of mind in 
America," said one writer, " to be born and nurtured 
and to exist chiefly in the Southern portions of the 
Union. . . . The pride of the North is in her dollars 
and cents, her factories and her ships. . . . The pride 
of the South is in her sons, in their nobleness of soul, 
their true gentility, honor, and manliness. . . . Both 

1 Trent, Simms, 102, 128, 163; Trent, Southern Writers, 65; 
Page, Old South, 57; Miner, The Southern Lit. Messenger; De 
Bow's Review, XXIV., 173 (January, 1858). 



have their gratification, the one in her dollars the 
other in her sons." 1 

Beneath all this self-assertion, however, existed a 
growing feeling of uneasiness which became strongly 
felt in this decade. Although De Bow, in his period- 
ical devoted to southern economic and social inter- 
ests, argued that the south was more prosperous 
than the north, and a chorus of writers and speakers 
echoed the comfortable belief, 2 the fact remained 
that the north was undeniably outstripping the 
south in numbers, industrial wealth, and political 
power. In the effort to arouse the community to a 
sense of its danger, and to discover remedies for 
southern backwardness, an interesting series of 
Southern Commercial Conventions was held, with 
annual sessions after 1852. These met in various 
cities, and debated such projects as a southern 
Pacific railroad and a direct southern steamship 
line to Europe, besides many other subjects of in- 
terest to planters. As the Kansas struggle pro- 
gressed, these meetings reflected more and more 
the political passions of the time, until, by i860, 
they became the debating-ground of southern radi- 
cals and conservatives, and the time of the sessions 
was taken up with the consideration of resolutions 
on the slave-trade and the slavery situation in gen- 
eral. In 1859 the radicals went so far as to carry 
through resolutions evidently intended to pave the 

1 Southern Lit. Messenger, XX., 295 (May, 1854). 

2 Cleveland, Stephens, 98. 


way for the transformation of the Commercial Con- 
vention into a permanent body, with members 
elected by the people, capable of taking political 
action. 1 In a practical way these meetings accom- 
plished nothing: something more than resolutions 
and fiery speeches was needed to enable the south 
to keep pace with the north. 

The movement for southward expansion, already 
referred to, 2 was another result of the southern 
uneasiness over the growing preponderance of the 
north. The popularity of Walker, the filibuster, the 
demand for Cuba, and the attempts to aid Cuban 
insurrection, all were based on a feeling that only 
by an increase of territory suitable for slave economy 
could the south hold its own. "Would I perform 
my duty to God, to my country, to humanity and 
to civil freedom," asked Quitman, of Mississippi, 
"were I to refuse to devote a portion of my life to 
such a cause ? . . . Our destiny is intertwined with 
that of Cuba. If slave institutions perish there they 
will perish here. . . . Our government can not or will 
not act. We must do it as individuals." 3 

Another scheme for aiding the south was the re- > 
opening of the slave-trade, an idea which rapidly 
gained favor in these years; for in no other way 
could the planters be relieved from the high price 
of slaves, the population of the south be increased, 

1 Be Bow's Review, 1853-1859, especially June, 1858, and July, 
1859. 2 See above, 81, 87. 

3 Claiborne, Quitman, II., 207. 
vol. xviii. — 20 


and the economic future be made certain. The agi- 
tation began after 1850, the advocates of the re- 
opening of the trade taking high ground. A writer 
in De Bow's Review classed it " among those mysteries 
which, however repulsive to fastidious eyes, are yet, 
in the hands of God, the instruments of Man's 
progress." 1 The full argument was thus stated by 
E. A. Pollard, in 1857: "There are many minds 
among us firmly convinced that the Slave Trade is al- 
most the only possible measure, the last resource to 
arrest the decline of the South in the Union. They 
see that it would develope resources which have 
slept for the great want of labor, that it would in- 
crease the area of cultivation in the South six times 
what it is now, that it would create a demand for 
land and raise its price, so as to compensate the 
planter for the depreciation of the slaves, that it 
would admit the poor white man to the advantages 
of our social system, that it would give him clearer 
interests in the country he loves now only from 
simple patriotism; that it would strengthen the 
peculiar institution; that it would strengthen our 
representation in Congress, and that it would revive 
and engender public spirit in the South." 2 

The demand was first made publicly by Governor 
Adams, of South Carolina, in 1856; and on various 
occasions committees of the South Carolina and 
Louisiana legislatures reported in favor of reopening 

1 De Bow's Review, December, 1854. 

2 Charleston Mercury, February 17, 1857. 


the trade. In 1856 the project was brought before 
the Southern Commercial Convention and was de- 
feated, 18 to 67; but three years later the vote 
changed to 49 to 19 in its favor. The subject was also 
brought up in Congress in 1859, although the south, 
as a whole, was not ready to seek such radical ac- 
tion. But the high prices of negroes and the eager- 
ness of southerners for added slave labor led to a 
great growth of slave - smuggling in these years. 
Scores of slave-ships sailed from New York to the 
coast of Africa, and hundreds of negroes were land- 
ed in the southern states. The federal government 
was apathetic, and the laws seemed impossible of 
execution. In forty cases tried in the ten years 
preceding 1856, only one sentence was obtained, the 
southern juries almost uniformly refusing to con- 
vict. In 1859 the yacht Wanderer landed over three 
hundred negroes in Georgia, but in spite of the wide- 
spread knowledge of the affair no one was pun- 
ished. 1 

The desire for the reopening of the slave-trade 
was part of a significant change which took place in 
southern sentiment in these years regarding the in- 
stitution of slavery. For twenty years southerners 
had undergone the unremitting and merciless at- 
tacks of abolitionists upon the slave system, and 
upon themselves for not instantly abandoning it; 
and as time went on the chorus of censure steadily 

1 DuBois, Slave-Trade, 180 et seq.; Spears, Slave-Trade, 195 
et seq. 


increased, until it seemed to them as though the en- 
tire north was united in holding them guilty in the 
sight of God and man. Yet the two beliefs most 
deeply rooted in the mind of every southerner were, 
that he was an honorable, Christian gentleman, and 
that the slave system was absolutely necessary to 
his prosperity. Some positive answer was necessary 
to the abuse by the anti- slavery critics. It was not 
enough to retort with anger and contempt, for the 
European world stood committed to the northern side, 
and its opinion must be dealt with. Accordingly, in 
this decade there was developed a new political and 
social philosophy, supplanting all previous half de- 
fences and apologies, which boldly asserted that 
slavery was a positive good, the only sure basis for 
society, religion, and the family, while liberty was a 
danger to the human race. 1 

The new defenders of slavery swept away at the 
start the old, traditional doctrines of the Revolution, 
denied the natural equality of man or the existence 
of any natural right to liberty, and argued that only 
when two unequal races existed together, with the 
inferior in subjection to the superior, was true hap- 
piness possible to either and the highest civilization 
attainable by the superior race. To prove this they 
pointed to the miserable condition of the laboring 
classes in manufacturing countries, insisting with 
never-tiring emphasis that the slaves were infmite- 

1 Merriam, American Political TJteory, 227-246; cf. Hart, Sla- 
very and Abolition (Am. Nation, XVI.), chap. x. 


ly better off. "Those countries," said one writer, 
"must retain their form of society and try to make 
the best of it. But we contend that ours is better. 
We assert that in all countries and at all times there 
must be a class of hewers of wood and drawers of 
water who must always of necessity be the sub- 
stratum of society. We affirm that it is best for 
all that this class should be formed of a race upon 
whom God himself has placed a mark of physical 
and mental inferiority." 1 This doctrine had been 
elaborated before 1850, by Calhoun and others, but 
it now became the accepted creed of the defenders 
of slavery, proclaimed by clergymen, congressmen, 
and newspapers in the teeth of the Republicans. 

On the actual condition of the slaves in the years 
1850-1860, an opinion may safely be formed, for at 
no time was the institution subjected to more care- 
ful study. Travellers observed it continually, some- 
times laudatory in their remarks, oftener the reverse ; 
abolitionists amassed evidence of its atrocities, and 
defenders painted pictures of its idyllic sides. All 
other investigations were cast into the shade by the 
work of Frederick Law Olmsted, who published in 
this decade the results of extensive journeys under- 
taken by him in the slave states for the sake of 
seeing slavery as it was in the daily life of the peo- 
ple. Olmsted was no friendly critic of the " peculiar 
institution," and he acknowledged himself that his 
books were " too fault-finding" ; but if allowance be 

1 Southern Lit. Messenger, XXXVII., 93 (July, 1858). 



made for this personal element, the observations 
create such a picture of the slave-holding civilization 
as can be found nowhere else. The real economic 
failure under the apparent prosperity of slavery and 
the depressing effects of the system upon the whites 
were the lessons of the book. Gleaned from every 
sort of source, from planter, poor white, tavern 
loafer, slave, or free negro, the old south painted its 
own portrait in his pages. 1 

The feeling of the southern people towards the 
north grew in these years into its final form. Before 
the Kansas-Nebraska excitement it was customary 
for all but the extreme followers of Calhoun to be- 
lieve that the abolitionists — by which was meant all 
who in any way attacked or criticised slavery — were 
in a small minority, and that the national feelings 
of the northern majority would maintain harmony. 
After the rise of the Republican party, it became the 
conviction of a majority of southerners that the 
north, as a whole, was fundamentally wrong in its 
view of southern institutions, and could not be relied 
upon to do justice. The self - defensive sentiment 
behind northern anti-slavery feeling was not grasped, 
and the course of politics since 1850 was regarded as 
an unprovoked series of aggressions upon southern 
rights and southern feelings. "We are arraigned 
day after day," said Davis in the Lecompton debate, 
" as the aggressive power. What southern senator, 
during this whole session, has attacked any portion 
1 Trent, in Olmsted, Seaboard States (ed. of 1904), I., p. xxxiii. 


or any interest of the north? In what have we 
now, or ever, back to the earliest period of our his- 
tory, sought to deprive the north of any advantage 
it possessed? . . . The whole charge is that we seek 
to extend our institutions into the common terri- 
tory of the United States. . . . You have made it 
a political war. We are on the defensive. How 
far are you to push us ?" 1 

Since, to the southern mind, slavery was right, 
common fairness required that it should have at 
least an equal share in the federal territories and 
that its supporters should not be proscribed ; hence 
the Free Soil and Republican programme was wholly 
unjust and unfair. Further, the duty of returning 
fugitive slaves was part of the common Constitution, 
and the refusal to do so, whether expressed by mobs, 
by " personal liberty laws," or by mere inertness, was 
equally unpardonable. Still further — and here lay 
the chief ground of offence in the people of the north 
— the inhabitants of the free states were no more 
qualified to judge of the rightfulness of slavery than 
were the slave-holders themselves, and their per- 
sistent hostility to the " peculiar institution" was an 
affront to the "honor" of the entire south. 

If northern injustice were to continue, there could 
be but one possible result — secession. Calhoun's 
spirit dominated southern thought after his death 
as it never had done during his lifetime ; his Disqui- 
sition on Government was studied in southern colleges 
1 Cong. Globe, 35 Cong., 1 Sess., 619. 



and became the political Bible of the younger men 
of the time, until the doctrine of the indivisible 
sovereignty of the separate states was an ingrained 
part of the southern creed. 1 If the states were 
sovereign, disunion would not be revolution, but a 
mere dissolution of partnership, and ought to involve 
no more trouble than making an equitable division 
of common property and common liabilities. No 
state, moreover, was bound to adhere to the partner- 
ship any longer than was profitable or honorable; 
and the other partners had no right whatever to 
object to its withdrawal, still less to prevent it. 

By 1859 the time was close at hand, in the opinion 
of hundreds of thousands of southern men, when the 
partnership of north and south would cease to be 
of further mutual profit. The north could not be 
driven into a course of justice by reason, and com- 
pulsion through commercial boycott, although often 
discussed, was felt to be. inadequate. Moreover, as 
the years went on the sense of social repulsion be- 
tween southern aristocrats and northern "mechan- 
ics," existing since the foundation of the country, 
increased in bitterness until the planters of i860 
talked as if the "Yankee" were the incarnation of 
vulgarity and depravity. De Bow curtly defined 
"Yankees" as "that species of the human race who 
foster in their hearts, lying, hypocrisy, deceit and 
treason"; elsewhere he discovered the source of the 

1 Merriam, Am. Political Theory, 278-283; McLaughlin, in 
Am. Hist. Rev., V., 484 (April, 1900). 


social degeneracy of the north: "The basis, frame- 
work and controlling influence of Northern senti- 
ment is Puritanism — the old Roundhead, rebel refuse 
of England which . . . has ever been an unruly sect 
of Pharisees, . . . the worst bigots on earth and the 
meanest of tyrants when they have the power to 
exercise it. They have never had the slightest con- 
ception of what constitutes true liberty and are in- 
capable by nature of giving or receiving such." 1 

The undeniable ferment of the north in thought 
and in reform, taking, as it did, many extravagant, 
although harmless shapes, made the section appear 
in southern eyes reeking with irreligion, blasphemy, 
and radicalism. Southern defenders were forever 
drawing comparisons between the ''poverty, crime, 
infidelity, anarchy and licentiousness of Free Society 
and the plenty, morality, conservatism, good order 
and universal Christian faith of Slave Society." 2 To 
the strictly orthodox southern planters, New Eng- 
land seemed a land of abomination, and abolitionists 
appeared bloody-minded fanatics, longing to cause 
negro insurrection, with massacre and unmention- 
able horrors. 

So matters stood in 1859: mutual misunderstand- 
ing, mutual dislike and contempt; on one side a 
fixed purpose to exclude the other from control of 
the federal government; on the other an equally 
fixed purpose to secede if ousted. For years the 

1 De Bow's Review, August, 1857, July, 1858. 

2 Richmond Enquirer, December 7, 1855. 


control had been kept in the hands of the south by 
a combination in the ranks of the Democratic party 
of northern conservatives with southern moderates; 
but now this coalition seemed to be shaken. Upon 
the outcome of the election of i860 hung the de- 
cision; in the minds of most southern leaders the 
result was already determined. The Union must 
come to an end. 



THE most useful bibliography for this period is that in 
Edward Charming and Albert B. Hart, Guide to American 
History (1896), §§ 186, 189, 198-202, which, although 
lacking references to works published in the last ten years, 
is reasonably complete as regards the sources and the 
standard authorities. A less comprehensive list, annotated 
with critical comments, is found in J. N. Larned, Literature 
of American History (1902). Older and less complete, but 
still capable of use, is William E. Foster, References to the 
History of Presidential Administrations (1885). The Cam- 
bridge Modern History, VIII., The United States (1903), con- 
tains a select bibliography of the period; and the index 
volume of Hermann Von Hoist, Constitutional History of 
the United States, VIII. (1892), contains a list of authorities 
which deals chiefly with the period after 1850. See also the 
Critical Essay on Authorities in the preceding and follow- 
ing volumes of this series, Garrison, Westward Extension, 
and Chadwick, Causes of the Civil W ar. 


The secondary work which studies the events of the 
period before the Civil War in the greatest detail is Her- 
mann E. Von Hoist, Constitutional History of the United 
States, IV.-VI. (1 885-1 892). The author based his writ- 
ings on a thorough study of the public documents and 



other published material in the field, and displayed a con- 
sistently critical attitude towards the men and measures of 
the slavery controversy which renders his work of unique 
service. He was not, however, in sympathy with American 
political or social habits, judged overharshly, and was so 
strongly anti- slavery in predisposition as seriously to im- 
pair the value of his treatment of southern leaders. Less 
detailed in treatment, but far more successful in point of 
view of combined scholarship and impartiality, is James 
Ford Rhodes, History of the United States from the Com- 
promise of 1850 (7 vols., 1893-1906), which devotes parts 
of vols. I. to III. to this period and bids fair to be regarded 
as the standard account of these years. It needs, however, 
to be supplemented on the side of diplomatic and legal his- 
tory. James Schouler, History of the United States (6 vols., 
1 880 -1 897), covers this period in the fifth volume, ade- 
quately as to facts, but in somewhat mechanical form 
and with a strongly northern spirit. The account by John 
W. Burgess, The Middle Period (1897), and The Civil 
War and the Constitution (2 vols., 1901), is concise, an- 
alytical, legalistic, and founded on a limited range of 

Other general works are frankly controversial, almost all 
of them written by northern partisans. Horace Greeley, 
The American Conflict (2 vols., 1864), gives a brief resume, 
with extracts from documents; James G. Blaine, Twenty 
Years of Congress (2 vols., 1884-1886), comments on 
economic and political events. The full but ill-digested 
narrative in Henry Wilson, Rise and Fall of the Slave Power 
(3 vols., 1872-1877), has the value attaching to author- 
ship by an active participant in the contests it describes. 
George Lunt, The Origin of the Late War (1866), describes 
events from the stand-point of the conservative Whig. 
On the southern side there is little of value; Alexander H. 
Stephens, The War between the States (2 vols., 186 8- 1870), 
and Jefferson Davis, The Rise and Fall of the Confederate 
Government (2 vols., 1881), slip over this field with little 
detail of discussion. 

i860] AUTHORITIES 307 


The only general compilation of documents in this field 
is Michael W. Cluskey, Political Text-Book (1857), which 
contains a mass of miscellaneous material bearing on the 
political history of the country from 1850 to 1857. The 
Whig Almanac (annual vols., 1851 to 1855) an( i its con- 
tinuation, The Tribune Almanac (annual vols., 1856 to 
1861), contain much political information; and the Ameri- 
can Almanac (annual vols., 1850 to 1861) has collections of 
federal and state statistics. Albert Bushnell Hart, Ameri- 
can History Told by Contemporaries (4 vols., 1897-1901), 
contains extracts from a number of sources. William 
MacDonald, Select Documents Illustrative of the History of 
the United States (1898), comprises the most important 
public documents of these years. Among special collec- 
tions containing documentary matter are two devoted to 
presidential papers — James D. Richardson, Messages and 
Papers of the Presidents (10 vols., 1896-1897), and Edwin 
Williams, Statesman's Manual (4 vols., 1858). John B. 
Moore, International Arbitrations (5 vols., 1896); Freeman 
Snow, Treaties and Topics in American Diplomacy (1894), 
and J. C. Bancroft Davis, editor, Treaties and Conventions 
(1871), contain material relating to foreign affairs. Charles 
F. Dunbar, Extracts from the Laws . . . relating to Currency 
and Finance (1891), and Frank W. Taussig, State Papers 
and Speeches on the Tariff (1892), include documents bear- 
ing on financial history. Ben Perley Poore, Federal and 
State Constitutions (2 vols., 1877), prints the state consti- 
tutions and amendments adopted in this period; and 
Edward Stanwood, History of the Presidency (1898), and 
Thomas V. Cooper and Hector T. Fenton, American Poli- 
tics (1882), reprint party platforms and election statistics. 


The primary sources for most of the history of this 
period are the public documents of the United States. The 

3 o8 


history of legislation and of party and public opinion, be- 
sides a good deal of information upon local politics and 
federal administration, are to be found in the Congressional 
Globe, from the thirty-first Congress, second session, to the 
thirty-fifth Congress, second session. The progress of fed- 
eral finances, foreign affairs, military and administrative ac- 
tion is to be studied from the House and Senate Journals, 
Executive Documents, and Miscellaneous Documents, and 
in the Reports of Committees from the thirty -first to the 
thirty-sixth, or in some cases later, congresses. The Stat- 
utes at Large of the United States contain the laws of this 
period in vols. IX. to XI. (1851 to 1859), and the United 
States Supreme Court Reports (vols. 8 to 24, Howard), are 
indispensable for the judicial history. The British and 
Foreign State Papers (in vols. XXXVIII. to L., 1862 to 
1867) contain much of the correspondence relating to con- 
troversies to which the United States was a party. In 
addition, important material is to be found in the docu- 
ments of the various states, the Legislative Journals, the 
Session Laivs, or Acts and Resolves, and the reports of 
state supreme court decisions. 


The magazines of the period contain some political ma^ 
terial and are of value in exhibiting the social and intel- 
lectual life of the times. Among the northern periodicals, 
Harper's New Monthly Magazine runs through the period, 
as does the older North American Review. Putnam's Maga- 
zine began in 1853, and the Atlantic Monthly in 1857. The 
American Whig Review lived only to 1852, but the Demo- 
cratic Review lasted until 1859. In the south, the Southern 
Quarterly Review did not survive 1856, but the Southern 
Literary Messenger, edited by William Gilmore Simms and 
containing the best products of southern pens, existed 
through the decade. Among economic periodicals, the 
Bankers' Magazine, of New York, and Hunt's Merchants* 
Magazine, of Philadelphia, furnish much information, 

i860] AUTHORITIES 309 

mainly about northern conditions, and De Bow's Commer- 
cial Review, of New Orleans, is especially valuable for the 
material it contains relating to the economic and political 
welfare of the south. 

Among newspapers, all shades of political opinion are 
represented by numerous examples. The radical aboli- 
tionist point of view is exhibited in the Liberator and the 
National Anti-Slavery Standard; the Free Soil position by 
the National Era. Anti- slavery Whig and Republican 
sentiments are shown in the New York Tribune, the New 
York Times, the Chicago Tribune, the Boston Advertiser, 
and the official Whig organs in the west; the Ohio State 
Journal, Indiana State Journal, and the Wisconsin State 
Journal. An example of the Whig element in a border 
state is the Baltimore American. Anti-slavery Democrats 
at the north are represented by the New York Evening Post 
and the Chicago Democrat; the Hunker Democracy by the 
Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Washington Union. At the 
south, the Charleston Mercury and the New Orleans Delta 
represent the extreme pro-slavery wing, and the Richmond 
Enquirer a rather more moderate attitude. It is not pos- 
sible to enumerate the journals which contribute informa- 
tion regarding the politics and life of the time. The use of 
the telegraph and the habit of copying freely from each 
other tended to make the more important papers of nearly 
equal value for news, the distinguishing feature being the 
presence or absence of editorial power. 


The published works of statesmen and others who were 
active in this period include few by southerners. The lead- 
ing ones are: The Life, Correspondence, and Speeches of 
Henry Clay (edited by Calvin Colton, 6 vols., 1857; reis- 
sued 1896); The Works of Daniel Webster (6 vols., 1851); 
The Private Correspondence of Daniel Webster (edited by 
Fletcher Webster, 1857); The Writings and Speeches of 
Daniel Webster ("national edition," by J. W. Mclntyre, 18 


vols., 1903); The Works of William H. Seward (edited by 
G. E. Baker, 5 vols., 1853-1884); The Works of Charles 
Sumner (15 vols., 187 0-1883); The Complete Works of 
Abraham Lincoln (edited by John G. Nicolay and John Hay, 
2 vols., 1904); The Speeches, Lectures, and Letters of Wen- 
dell Phillips (1863) ; The Works of Rufus Choate (edited by 
Samuel G. Brown, 2 vols., 1862); R. C. Winthrop, Ad- 
dresses and Speeches (4 vols., 185 2-1 886) ; Edward Everett, 
Orations and Speeches on Various Occasions (4 vols., 1853- 
1868) ; The Orations and Addresses of George William Curtis 
(edited by Charles Eliot Norton, 2 vols., 1891); The 
Speeches, Correspondence, etc., of Daniel S. Dickinson (2 
vols., 1867); and John A Dix, Speeches and Occasional 
Addresses (2 vols., 1864). The only writings of ultra- 
southern men of this period which have been published are, 
James H. Hammond, Letters and Speeches (1866), and 
Thomas L. Clingman, Writings and Speeches (1877). The 
Lincoln-Douglas Debates were published in i860, and have 
been reissued in 1899. Rowland G. Hazard, Economics 
and Politics (1889), contains material bearing on political 
and financial life in this decade. A few collections of let- 
ters to and by public men have appeared: James S. Pike, 
First Blows of the Civil War (1879); Salmon P. Chase, 
Diary and Correspondence (American Historical Association, 
Report, 1902) ; and Some Papers of Franklin Pierce {Ameri- 
can Historical Review y X., 97, 350). 


Few of the many volumes of reminiscences contribute to 
the knowledge of events in the political world, but their 
value is considerable on the social and personal side. 
Among the more important are the following, which treat 
of political doings at Washington: Horace Greeley, Recol- 
lections of a Busy Life (1868); Nathan Sargent, Public 
Men and Events (2 vols., 1875); J. W. Forney, Anecdotes 
of Public Men (2 vols., 1873, 1881); Ben Perley Poore, 
Perley's Reminiscences (1886); Thurlow Weed, Autobiog- 

:86o] AUTHORITIES 311 

raphy (1884); Richard W. Thompson, Recollections of 
Sixteen Presidents (1894); James A. Hamilton, Remi- 
niscences (1869). Two elaborate attempts at self-justifica- 
tion are James Buchanan, Mr. Buchanan's Administration 
on the Eve of the Rebellion (1866); and J. Madison Cutts, 
A Brief Treatise upon Constitutional and Party Questions 
as Received Orally from the Late Stephen A. Douglas (1866). 
Episodes in diplomatic history are touched upon by Samuel 
C. Goodrich, Recollections of a Lifetime (1856), and by 
Maunsell B. Field, Memories of Many Men and Some 
Women (1874). Western political life is set forth in John 
Sherman, Recollections of Forty Years (2 vols., 1895); 
George W. Julian, Political Recollections (1884) ; and Henry 
Villard, Memoirs (2 vols., 1904). Massachusetts politics 
appear in George S. Boutwell, Reminiscences of Sixty Years 
(2 vols., 1902), and Charles T. Congdon, Reminiscences of 
a Journalist (1880). Southern political life is illustrated 
by Benjamin F. Perry, Reminiscences of Public Men (1883) ; 
Henry S. Foote, Casket of Reminiscences (1874); Reuben 
Davis, Recollections of Mississippi and the Mississippians 
(1889); and Moncure D. Conway, Autobiography (2 vols., 
1904). The views of representative anti- slavery leaders 
appear in James Freeman Clarke, Anti-Slavery Days (1883) ; 
Samuel J. May, Recollections of the Anti-Slavery Conflict 
(1869); Levi Coffin, Reminiscences (1880); and the Life 
and Times of Frederick Douglass, Written by Himself (re- 
vised ed., 1895). 


The lives of leading men are among the best secondary 
authorities for the period, although here, as in general, the 
southern literary representation is regrettably inferior. For 
I the "Unionist," or conservative northern, stand-point there 
: are three admirable biographies by George Ticknor Curtis 
! — James Buchanan (2 vols., 1883), Daniel Webster (2 vols., 
1870), and Benjamin R. Curtis (2 vols., 1879). Others 
representing the same tendency are: Andrew C. McLaughlin, 
Lewis Cass (1891) ; Samuel G. Brown, Rufus Choate (1870) ; 

VOL. XVIII. — 21 



Robert C. Winthrop, Jr., Memoir of Robert C. Winthrop 
(1897); and George C. Gorham, Life and Public Services 
of Edwin M. Stanton (2 vols., 1899). Douglas still awaits 
an adequate biography, the best campaign life being James 
W. Sheahan, Life of Stephen A. Douglas (i860). The more 
important lives of Republican leaders are: Edward L. 
Pierce, Memoir of Charles Sumner (4 vols., 1877); Frederic 
Bancroft, William H. Seward (2 vols., 1900); Frederick W. 
Seward, Seward at Washington (1891); Moorfield Storey, 
Charles Sumner (1900) ; James W. Schuckers, The Life and 
Public Services of Salmon P. Chase (1874) ; Robert B. War- 
den, The Private Life and Public Services of Salmon P. 
Chase (1874); Albert Bushnell Hart, Salmon Portland 
Chase (1899); Charles E. Hamlin, Life and Times of Han- 
nibal Hamlin (1899); George W. Julian, Joshua R. Gid- 
dings (1892); these covering the congressional history 
of the times. The course of state politics appears in 
George S. Merriam, The Life and Times of Samuel Bowles 
(2 vols., 1885); William D. Foulke, Oliver P. Morton (2 
vols., 1899); Parke Godwin, Life and Works of William 
Cullen Bryant (6 vols., 1883); Charles Francis Adams, 
Richard H. Dana (2 vols., 1890); and the numerous lives 
of Lincoln, especially John T. Morse, Abraham Lincoln (2 
vols., 1893); John G. Nicolay and John Hay, Abraham 
Lincoln, a History (10 vols., 1890); Isaac N. Arnold, Life 
of Abraham Lincoln (1885); Ward H. Lamon, Life of 
Abraham Lincoln (1872); Ida M. Tarbell, The Life of 
Abraham Lincoln (4 vols., 1900); and a dozen others of 
less merit. Among biographies of radicals the Life of 
William Lloyd Garrison by His Children (4 vols., 1889), 
stands pre-eminent for fulness and thoroughness in its pres- 
entation of the combative abolitionist leader, written in a 
spirit of unqualified filial eulogy, but based in nearly every 
point upon the words of the subject of the biography. 
Other works illustrating the reforming activities of the time 
are: Oliver Johnson, Garrison and His Times (1880); Octa- 
vius B. Frothingham, Theodore Parker (1874), and G err it 
Smith (1879); J°hn Weiss, Life and Correspondence of 

i860] AUTHORITIES 313 

Theodore Parker (2 vols., 1864); James W. Chadwick, 
Theodore Parker (1901); Francis Tiffany, Dorothea L. Dix 
(1876); George L. Austin, Life and Times of Wendell 
Phillips (1888); Samuel T. Pickard, John G. Whittier 
(1894); J. Eliot Cabot, Ralph Waldo Emerson (2 vols., 
1887); Lyman Abbott, Henry Ward Beecher (1903); Will- 
iam C. Beecher and Samuel Scoville, Biography of Henry 
Ward Beecher (1888) ; Edward Cary, George William Curtis 
(1894); Annie Field, Life and Letters of Harriet Beecher 
Stowe (1898); Charles E. St owe, Life of Harriet Beecher 
Stowe (1889); Ida H. Harper, Susan B. Anthony (2 vols., 
1899) ; and the lives of John Brown referred to below in the 
section dealing with Kansas. 

On the southern side the lives of representative Union 
men are: Calvin Colton, The Last Seven Years of the Life 
of Henry Clay (1856); Mrs. M. Coleman, The Life of John 
J. Crittenden (2 vols., 1871); Carl Schurz, Henry Clay 
(2 vols., 1887); William Meigs, The Life of Thomas Hart 
Benton (1904); Alfred M. Williams, Sam Houston and the 
War of Independence in Texas (1893); James S. Jones, 
Andrew Johnson (1901); but no adequate life exists of 
John Bell, John M. Clayton, or any other of the southern 
Whigs. The radical southern leaders are represented by 
Barton H. Wise, Henry A. Wise (1899); Mrs. Varina J. 
Davis, Jefferson Davis, a Memoir (2 vols., 1890); Frank 
H. Alfriend, Life of Jefferson Davis (1868); Henry Cleve- 
land, Alexander H. Stephens in Public and Private (1868) ; 
Richard M. Johnston and William H. Browne, Life of 
Alexander H. Stephens (1878); Pleasant A. Stovall, Robert 
Toombs, Statesman, Speaker, Soldier, Sage (1892); John W. 
DuBose, The Life and Times of William Lowndes Yancey 
(1892); Samuel Tyler, Memoir of Roger B. Taney (1872); 
Henry A. Wise, Seven Decades of the Union, a Memoir of 
John Tyler (1876); Lyon G. Tyler, Letters and Times of 
the Tylers (2 vols., 1885); Samuel Boykin, Memorial Vol- 
ume of Howell Cobb (1870) ; Virginia Mason, Public Life of 
James M. Mason (1903); William P. Trent, William Gil- 
more Simms (1892); John F. H. Claiborne, Life . . . of 



John A. Quitman (2 vols., i860). Three volumes of brief 
essays upon political leaders deserve mention: John Sav- 
age, Our Living Representative Men (i860); David W. 
Bartlett, Presidential Candidates (1859); and William P. 
Trent, Southern Statesmen of the Old Regime (1897). Other 
biographies are referred to in connection with special fields 
of the period. 


There is no general history of parties which treats fully 
of this period. Jesse Macy, Political Parties, 1846-1860 
(1900), is an analytical and suggestive study of party 
policies and relations, but it does not deal with details. 
Party methods are considered in a number of modern 
monographs, the most considerable of which are M. Ostro- 
gorski, Democracy and the Organization of Political Par- 
ties (2 vols., 1902); Jesse Macy, Party Organization and 
Party Machinery (1904); Mary P. Follett, The Speaker of 
the House of Representatives (1896) ; Edward C. Mason, The 
Veto Power (Harvard Historical Monographs, 1890) ; Lucy 
Maynard Salmon, The Appointing Power (1886); and Carl 
R. Fish, The Civil Service and the Patronage (Harvard His- 
torical Studies, 1905). Single parties are treated in a few 
contemporary accounts and a number of recent scientific 
monographs. Among the former, partisan in temper, are 
Robert M. Ormsby, The Whig Party (1859); John H. Lee, 
Origin ... 0/ the American Party (1855) ; Thomas R. Whit- 
ney, A Defence of American Policy (1856); James R. 
Hambleton, The Political Campaign in Virginia in 1855 
(1856). Among recent works, Louis D. Scisco, Political 
Nativism in New York (1901), is an exhaustive treatise, 
valuable for the entire history of the Know-Nothing move- 
ment. Other studies upon the same party are: Laurence 
F. Schmeckebier, The Know-Nothing Party in Maryland 
(1899); Charles Stickney, Knoiv-N othingism in Rhode Isl- 
and (1894) ; and two studies of Massachusetts nativism by 
George H. Haynes— "A Know-Nothing Legislature," in 
American Historical Association, Report, 1896, and "The 





Causes of Know-Nothing Success," in American Historical 
Review, III., 67 (October, 1897). The career of the Free 
Soil and Republican organizations appears in Theodore 
Clarke Smith, The Liberty and Free Soil Parties in the 
Northwest (Harvard Historical Studies, 1897); Norman D. 
Harris, Negro Servitude in Illinois (1901); a series of 
articles by Russell Errett in the Magazine of Western 
History, X. (1889); and Francis Curtis, The Republican 
Party (2 vols., 1904). A valuable study of the growth of 
corrupt municipal politics in New York City appears in 
Gustavus Myers, The History of Tammany Hall (1901). 


A full but drily technical study of the activity of the 
supreme court at this period is George W. Biddle, "Con- 
stitutional Development ... as Influenced by . . . Taney," 
in Henry W. Rogers (and others), The Constitutional His- 
tory of the United States as Seen in the Development of 
American Law (1889). A more readable account is Hamp- 
ton L. Carson, The Supreme Court of the United States (2 
vols., 1892). George Ticknor Curtis, Constitutional History 
of the United States (2 vols., 1896), has an important chapter 
upon the Dred Scott case in which the author took part, 
but it is published in the incomplete state in which it was 
left at the death of the writer. Of the numerous contem- 
porary pamphlets upon the Dred Scott case, the two best 
known are Thomas Hart Benton, Historical and Legal 
Examination of the Case of Dred Scott (1857), and Horace 
Gray and John Lowell A Legal Review of the Case of Dred 
Scott (1857). 


The only general history of American diplomacy is John 
W. Foster, A Century of American Diplomacy (1900), which 
gives a brief but in the main correct survey of these years. 
The fisheries question is specially dealt with by John B. 
Henderson in American Diplomatic Questions (1901). The 



slave-trade and the Danish Sound dues are covered by 
Eugene Schuyler, American Diplomacy and the Furtherance 
of Commerce (1886). On Cuban relations there are two 
monographs: James M. Callahan, Cuba and International 
Relations (1899), is an elaborate study of the Cuban ques- 
tion deprived of much of its usefulness to the reader by 
the complete omission of references; more valuable to the 
student and much more readable is John H. Latane, "The 
Diplomacy of the United States in Regard to Cuba," in 
American Historical Association, Report, 1897; with which 
is to be compared an article by Sidney Webster, entitled 
"Mr. Marcy, the Cuban Question, and the Ostend Mani- 
festo," in Political Science Quarterly, VIII. (1893). On the 
complicated Central American question, the best account, 
thorough and impartial in spirit, is Ira D. Travis, The 
Clayton-Bulwer Treaty (1900). Briefer studies are in the 
volume of Henderson above referred to, and in John H. 
Latane, The Diplomatic Relations of the United States and 
Spanish America (1900). The work of Lindley M. Keas- 
bey, The Nicaragua Canal and the Monroe Doctrine (1896), 
is disfigured by violent anti-British partisanship, and is to 
be used with caution. Thomas J. Lawrence, Essays on 
Disputed Questions (1884), discusses the Clayton-Bulwer 
treaty from a moderate British point of view. The career 
of William Walker, the filibuster, is treated in two general 
works, Hubert H. Bancroft, California, III., chaps, xvi., 
xvii. (1885), and Theodore H. Hittell, California, III. 
(1897). Contemporary accounts of more or less trust- 
worthiness are William Walker, The War in Nicaragua 
(i860) ; William V. Wells, Walker's Expedition to Nicaragua 
(1856). Modern studies are James T. Roche, The Story of 
the Filibusters (1896), and especially William C. Scroggs, 
" Walker and the Steamship Company," in American His- 
torical Review, X. (July, 1905). Akin to the foregoing is 
Howard L. Wilson, "Buchanan's Proposed Intervention in 
Mexico," in American Historical Review, V. (July, 1900). 
The dealings of the United States with China and Japan 
are summed up by James M. Callahan, in American Rela- 

i860] AUTHORITIES 317 

Hons in the Pacific and the Far East (1901); and by John 
W. Foster, American Diplomacy in the Orient (1903). A 
fuller but still a compact account of Japanese diplomacy 
is Inazo O. Nitobe, The Intercourse between the United 
States and Japan (1891). Two biographies by William E. 
Griffis are also to be consulted in this field — Commodore 
Matthew Calbraith Perry (188.7), and Townsend Harris 
(1895). The lives of two English statesmen who took part 
in diplomatic dealings contain a small amount of matter — 
T. Walrond, Life and Letters of James, Eighth Earl of Elgin 
(1872), and E. Ashley, Life of Henry John Temple, Vis- 
count P aimer ston (2 vols., 1876). 


There is no satisfactory general economic history for 
this period. Two compilations containing many facts in 
an unco-ordinated shape are The First Century of the Repub- 
lic (1876), and One Hundred Years of American Commerce, 
edited under the name of Chauncey M. Depew (1895). In- 
dustrial history appears in two works: Albert S. Bolles, 
The Industrial History of the United States (1879), which is 
incomplete and marked by strong protectionist views ; and 
John L. Bishop, History of American Manufactures (3 vols., 
1 861-1868), which is better, but not of the first rank. Of 
greater merit are certain special works : James D. B. DeBow, 
The Industrial Resources of the Southern and Western States 
(3 vols., 1852-1853); Benjamin F. French, The History of 
the Iron Trade (1858); and two modern monographs — 
James M. Swank, Iron in all Ages (second ed., 1892), and 
Matthew B. Hammond, The Cotton Industry (1897). The 
railway building of the period is described in John L. Ring- 
wait, The American Transportation System (1888), and by 
Fletcher W. Hewes, in The American Railway (1889). The 
political aspect of railway construction is well handled by 
John B. Sanborn, Congressional Grants of Land in Aid of 
Railways (1899), and by William A. Scott, The Repudia- 
tion of State Debts (1893). Two writers treat of the Ameri- 



can shipping industry from diametrically opposite points 
of view: David A. Wells, Our Merchant Marine (1890), 
holding that the loss of the carrying-trade was due to over- 
protection; and William W. Bates, The American Marine 
(1897), maintaining that the trouble was due to insufficient 
governmental support. The efforts to lay the Atlantic 
cable of 1858 are described in Henry M. Field, The History 
of the Atlantic Telegraph (1869). 

The finances of the period are admirably summarized in 
Davis R. Dewey, The Financial History of the United States 
(1903), a work notable for clearness, completeness, and cool- 
ness of judgment. Albert S. Bolles, Financial History of 
the United States (3 vols., 1 879-1 886), has greater merits 
than the Industrial History, but does not cover the entire 
field and is controversial in tone. David Kinley, The Inde- 
pendent Treasury (1893), is a scientific study of part of the 
governmental machinery. William G. Sumner, Banking in 
all Nations (4 vols., 1896), vol. I., has an elaborate history 
of state banking prior to the Civil War, and a briefer treat- 
ment of the same subject is in Horace White, Money and 
Banking (1896). There are three contemporary mono- 
graphs upon the panic of 1857: David M. Evans, The His- 
tory of the Commercial Crisis (1859); James S. Gibbons, 
The Banks of New York . . and the Panic of 1857 (1858) ; 
and Max Wirth, Geschichte der Handelskrisen (1858). By 
far the best recent treatment of the panic and its results is 
in Charles F. Dunbar, Economic Essays (edited by O. M. W. 
Sprague, 1904). The tariff is treated from opposite points 
of view by Frank W. Taussig, Tariff History of the United 
States (revised ed., 1898), which is critical in its attitude 
towards protection; and Edward Stanwood, American 
Tariff Controversies (2 vols., 1903), which is frankly written 
from the protectionist stand-point, but with attempts at 
impartiality. No full study of the movements of popula- 
tion in this decade has been made, but there is a brief 
reference to municipal development in Adna F. Weber, The 
Growth of Cities in the Nineteenth Century (1899). The 
principal sources for the economic history of the decade 

i860] AUTHORITIES 319 

are the volumes of the Eighth Census of the United States 
(4 vols., 1 864-1 866), the House Executive Documents and 
Senate Executive Documents, containing reports of secre- 
taries of the treasury. The similar reports of state finances 
should not be overlooked. 


The critical chapter of Albert Bushnell Hart, Slavery 
and Abolition {American Nation, XVI.), deals with the 
literature of this topic in detail. The nature of southern 
political life is well shown in Joseph Hodgson, The Cradle 
of the Confederacy (1876) ; Ulrich B. Phillips, "Georgia and 
State Rights," in the American Historical Association, 
Report, 1 901; and James W. Garner, "The First Struggle 
over secession in Mississippi," in Mississippi Historical So- 
ciety, Publications, IV., 91 (1901). A useful and temperate 
book upon the south as a section is Edward Ingle, Southern 
Sidelights (1896). The classic works upon southern eco- 
nomic and social conditions before the war are: Frederick 
Law Olmsted, The Seaboard Slave States (1856; a new ed., 
1904), A Journey through Texas (1857), and A Journey 
in the Back Country (i860). A condensation of these 
was published under the title The Cotton Kingdom (2 vols., 

1861) . A contemporary southern view is David Christy, 
Cotton is King (1855). A modern study of slavery before 
the war is in Matthew B. Hammond, The Cotton Industry 
(1897) ; and the subject is also treated by George W. Will- 
iams, The History of the Negro Race in America (2 vols., 
1883). Hinton R. Helper, The Impending Crisis (1857), is 
of historical interest as showing the beliefs of an anti- 
slavery southerner about slavery and its effects, but its 
temper is too polemic to permit of accuracy. John C. 
Hurd, The Law of Freedom and Bondage (2 vols., 1858- 

1862) , is the most elaborate legal treatise upon slavery. 
William Goodell, The American Slave Code (1853), is a more 
anti-slavery presentation; and Thomas R. R. Cobb, An In- 
quiry into the Law of Negro Slavery (1858), gives a southern 


point of view. The leading books in defence of slavery as 
a positive good are Albert T. Bledsoe, Liberty and Slavery 

(1856) , William Harper, James H. Hammond, William G. 
Simms, and Thomas B. Dew, The Pro -Slavery Argument 
(1853); & n d, still more radical, the works of George Fitz- 
hugh, Sociology for the South (1854), and Cannibals All 

(1857) . These views are conveniently summarized and 
analyzed in Charles E. Merriam, American Political Theories 
(1903). The sharp revival of the slave-trade at this period 
is described in W. E. Burghardt DuBois, The Suppression 
of the Slave-Trade {Harvard Historical Studies, 1896), and 
in more popular style in James R. Spears, The American 
Slave-Trade (1900). The conditions of social life and sec- 
tional feeling in the south have been described in a large 
number of reminiscent works, nearly all tinged with rose- 
color, but useful as showing how the southern aristocracy 
regarded themselves. Some of the best of these are : John 
S. Wise, The End of an Era (1899); Thomas Nelson Page, 
The Old South (1892) ; Mrs. V. V. Clayton, Black and White 
under the Old Regime (1899); Mrs. Roger A. Pryor, Remi- 
niscences of Peace and War (1904); Ada Sterling, A Belle 
of the Fifties (1904); and William M.Polk, Leonidas Polk, 
Bishop and General (2 vols., 1893). 


A few of the state histories are of value for the political 
life of the times. Among the southern states, Louisiana is 
treated fully in Alcee Fortier, The History of Louisiana (4 
vols., 1904). Others are Dudley G. Wooten, A Compre- 
hensive History of Texas (2 vols., 1898); Robert Lowry and 
William H. McCardle, History of Mississippi (1893) ; Lucien 
Carr, Missouri (1888); Walter B. Davis and Daniel S. Dur- 
rie, Illustrated History of Missouri (1876); W. F. Switz- 
ler, The Commonwealth of Missouri (edited by Chauncey 
R. Barns, 1877); Isaac W. Avery, History of the State of 
Georgia (1881); C. G. Smith, History of Georgia (1900); 
John W. Moore, History of North Carolina (1880) ; Nathaniel 




S. Shaler, Kentucky (1885). Among northern state his- 
tories the following contain political matter: Francis B. 
Lee, New Jersey (4 vols., 1902); Ellis H. Roberts, New 
York (2 vols., 1887); John Moses, Illinois, Historical and ' 
Statistical (2 vols., 1892); Charles R. Tuttle, Illustrated 
History of Wisconsin (1875) ; and Alexander M. Thompson, 
Political History of Wisconsin (1900). California has a 
voluminous literature, most of which is of purely local 
interest. The fullest and most authoritative histories of 
the state are Hubert Howe Bancroft, California, History 
of the Pacific States, XVII. (1888); Theodore H. Hittell, 
California (4 vols., 1885-1897); Franklin Tuthill, History 
of California (1866); and Josiah Royce, California (1886). 
For Utah and New Mexico the best summaries are in 
Hubert Howe Bancroft, History of the Pacific States, XII. 
and XXI. (1889). 


The primary sources for Kansas history are to be found 
in the congressional documents and the territorial docu- 
ments. Contemporary newspapers, especially those pub- 
lished in Kansas, are to be used with caution. Remi- 
niscences are of doubtful value unless checked by the 
testimony of the documents. The Kansas Historical Society, 
Transactions (7 vols, published to 1902), contain many such, 
of all degrees of merit. Histories of Kansas are nearly all 
controversial in tone, for, although none has been written 
from the pro-slavery point of view, there was so much per- 
sonal and factional antagonism among the members of the 
Free State party that recent works are all more or less 
tinged with their sentiments. The contemporary accounts 
are: Sara Robinson, Kansas, its Exterior and Interior Life 
(1856); William Phillips, The Conquest of Kansas (1856); 
Thomas H. Gladstone, The Englishman in Kansas (1857); 
and John H. Gihon, Governor Geary and Kansas (1857). 
Among later writers there is a sharp division between those 
who hold that John Brown and "Jim" Lane were chiefly 
effective in gaining the day for the Free State party, and 


those who consider that peaceful and political means were 
more successful. The biographies of John Brown main- 
tain the former view: Frank B. Sanborn, Life and Letters 
of John Brown (1885) ; James Redpath, The Public Life of 
Captain John Brown (i860); John Newton, Captain John 
Brown (1902); William E. Connelly, John Brown (1900); 
and, to a less degree, Daniel W. Wilder, Annals of Kansas 
(1875) ; John N. Holloway, History of Kansas (1868); and 
Charles R. Tuttle, Centennial History of Kansas (1876). 
On the other side, the leading works are: Eli Thayer, The 
Kansas Crusade (1889), which claims full credit for the 
Emigrant Aid Society, and is supported rather more moder- 
ately by William Lawrence, The Life of Amos A. Lawrence 
(1888) ; and two books upholding the claims of Robinson — 
Charles Robinson, The Kansas Conflict (1892; second ed., 
1898), the work of the Free State leader himself; and 
Frank W. Blackmar, The Life of Charles Robinson (1902). 
George W. Brown, a participant, writes three controversial 
works — Reminiscences of Old John Brown (1880), False 
Claims of Kansas Historians Truthfully Corrected (1902), 
and Reminiscences of Governor R. J. Walker (1902). Lever- 
ett W. Spring, Kansas, the Prelude to the War for the Union 
(1885), although not controversial in tone and eminently 
fair to the pro-slavery as well as the Free-State side, decides 
against the partisans of Brown and Lane, as does A. T. 
Andreas, The History of Kansas (1883). Two good articles 
in this field are Walter L. Fleming, "The Buford Expedi- 
tion to Kansas," in American Historical Review, VI., 38 
(October, 1900), and Leverett W. Spring, "The Career of 
a Kansas Politician," in American Historical Review, IV., 
80 (October, 1898). 


The observations of foreign travellers in the decade be- 
fore the Civil War continue to be of value, although to a 
less degree than at earlier dates. William Chambers, 
Things as They Are in America (1854), is an example of a 

i860] AUTHORITIES 323 

highly friendly account; Jean Jacques Ampere, Promenade 
en Amerique (2 vols., 1855), is a more critical work. Others 
worth consulting are Ferencz and Terezia Pulszky, White, 
Red, Black, Sketches of American Society (2 vols., 1853); 
Isabella Bird, The Englishwoman in America (1856); and 
Lady E. S. Wortley, Travels in the United States (1851). 
Descriptions of the new fashionable society life are in 
Nathaniel P. Willis, Hurrygraphs (185 1); Charles N. 
Bristed, The Upper Ten Thousand (1852); and George 
Will iam Curtis , Lotus-Eating (1852). A highly unfavorable 
view of the reform movements of the time is in George 
Lunt, Radicalism in Philosophy, Religion, and Social Life 
(1858). Modern studies of the Maine-law agitation are in 
Arthur Sherwell and John Rowntree, The Temperance 
Problem and Social Reform (1899) ; Frederick H. Wines and 
John Koren, The Liquor Problem in its Legislative Aspect 
(1897) ; Robert C. Pitman, Alcohol and the State (1877), and 
the Cyclopedia of Temperance and Prohibition (1891). The 
standard work on the woman's rights movement is Eliza- 
beth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Matilda J. Gage, 
The History of Woman Suffrage (4 vols., 1881). The au- 
thority upon the spiritualistic craze of the fifties is Frank 
Podmore, Modern Spiritualism (2 vols., 1902). 

The general attitude of the north towards slavery is 
summed up and discussed by Charles E. Merriam, American 
Political Theories (1903). Since no new doctrines were de- 
veloped by abolitionists during this period, it is not neces- 
sary to do more than mention the leading books published 
by them: William Chambers, American Slavery and Colour 
(1857), an d Richard Hildreth, Despotism in America (1854). 
Nehemiah Adams, A South-side View of Slavery (1855), won 
unending notoriety in New England as a defence of the 
institution. The subject of fugitive slaves and the attitude 
of the north towards them is shown in William Still, The 
Underground Railroad (1883), and particularly in Wilbur 
H. Siebert, The Underground Railroad (1898), the standard 
work on the subject. Marion G. McDougall, Fugitive 
Slaves (1891), is a useful summary; and Joel Parker, Per- 


sonal Liberty Laws (1858), is a contemporary criticism of 
one aspect of the northern opposition to the fugitive -slave 
act. Three of the best-known cases of fugitive rescues are 
treated in Charles E. Stevens, Anthony Burns, a History 
(1856); Jacob R. Shipherd, History of the Oberlin-W elling- 
ton Rescue (1859); and The History of the Trial of Castner 
Hanway for Treason . . . by a Member of the Philadelphia 
Bar (1852). 


Ableman vs. Booth, 207. 

Abolitionists, results of agita- 
tion, 4, 282; and fugitive- 
slave law, 15; Union meet- 
ings against, 16; attitude, 
282; bibliography, 312. 

Accessory Transit Company, 
89; and Grey town port dues, 
90-92; and Walker, 251, 252. 

Adams, J. H., and reopening of 
slave-trade, 296. 

Agriculture, grain exports, 66; 
shifting of grazing centre, 67 ; 
"king cotton," 67; effect of 
panic, 1 77-181. 

Ampere, J. J., on American ex- 
citability, 279. 

Amusements, dearth of ration- 
al, 275; of_"society," 275. 

Anarchism, rise, 268. 

Annexation. See Territory. 

Anthony, Susan B., as agitator, 
269, 270. 

Atchison, D. R., and Kansas, 
125, 126; appeal to southern- 
ers, 143; sack of Lawrence, 

Atlantic Monthly, 266. 
Austria, Huelsemann incident, 
76; Koszta affair, 78. 

Bancroft, George, as histori- 
an, 267. 

Banks, N. P., speakership con- 
test, 145, 146; presidential 
nomination, 163; withdraws, 

Banks, expansion, 70; condi- 
tion (1850-1857), 71; suspen- 
sion, 175, 176; resumption, 
177; revival, 187; bibliogra- 
phy, 318. 

"Barnburners" return to regu- 
larity, 17, 36. 

Barringer, D. N., and Lopez 
prisoners, 83. 

Bay Islands colony, 90, 91, 253, 

256. 2 57- 

Beecher, H. W., "Beecher's 
Bibles," 143; as lecturer, 273. 

Bedini in America, 115. 

Bell, John, political character, 
46; and Know-Nothingism, 
139; and Lecompton consti- 
tution, 225. 

Bell, P. H., secessionist (1850), 

Benjamin, J. P., joins Demo- 
crats, 139. 

Bennett, J. G., as journalist, 

Benton, T. H., loses senator- 
ship, 25, 42; on Kansas- 
Nebraska bill, 103. 

Bibliographies of period 1850- 
1860, 305. 

Biographies of period 1850- 
1860, 310-314. 

Black Warrior affair, 86. 

"Blue Lodges," 125. 

"Border Ruffians," 128. 

Boston, Shadrach rescue, 23; 
Sims case, 25; Burns rendi- 
tion, 284. 


Boutwell, G. S., elected gov- 
ernor, 1 8. 
Bowen, Francis, as writer, 267. 
Bowles, Samuel, as journalist, 

Breckinridge, J. C, vice-presi- 
dential nomination, 162. 

Bright, J. D., on partisan civil 
service, 53. 

Broderick, D. C, and adminis- 
tration, 224, 245; election of 
1859, 246; killed, 246. 

Brooks, Preston, assaults Sum- 
ner, 157; resigns, re-elected, 
158 ; and public opinion, 159, 

Brown, A. G., as debater, 52; 
demands protection for sla- 
very, 242. 

Brown, Antoinette, as agitator, 

Brown, John, massacre in Kan- 
sas, 165; bibliography, 322. 

Buchanan, James, and placa- 
tion of south, 1 1 ; political 
character, 45; and rotation 
in office, 54; Covode investi- 
gation, 56; diplomatic dress, 
79; Ostend manifesto, 87; 
Central American diplomacy, 
91, 92, 255-258; nomination, 
162; on Republican section- 
alism, 171; professed atti- 
tude on Kansas, 171; elect- 
ed, 172; on panic of 1857, 
177; and tariff, 184; and 
retrenchment, i85;andDred 
Scott decision, 190, 206; op- 
portunity in Kansas contro- 
versy, 210; endorses Le- 
compton constitution, 217, 
219, 240; and Douglas, 219, 
223-227; advises admission 
of Kansas as slave state, 221; 
popular condemnation, 233- 
235; and Mormons, 239; and 
tropical annexation, 253- 
255; and Walker, 255; and 
Cuba, 258; and Mexico, 258; 


and Paraguay, 259; and far 
east, 260; and slave-trade, 
260; bibliography of admin- 
istration, 305, 306; biog- 
raphy, 311. 

Buford, Jefferson, Kansas ex- 
pedition, 144; at sack of 
Lawrence, 156. 

Bulwer, Sir Henry, Clayton- 
Bulwer treaty, 89-91. 

Burlingame, Anson, on assault 
on Sumner, 159. 

Burns, Anthony, rendition, 284. 

Bushnell, Horace, as writer, 

Butler, A. P., Sumner's attack, 
157; and Brooks's assault, 

Cabinet, Fillmore's 12; 
Pierce's, 38. 

Calderon de la Barca, Angel, 
and Lopez's expeditions, 82 ; 
Black Warrior affair, 86. 

Calhoun, John, Lecompton con- 
stitution, 215, 216. 

Calhoun, J. C, political guide 
of south, 301. 

California, slavery controversy, 
3 ; free state, 8 ; effect of gold 
output, 70; election of 1859, 
245; Broderick-Terry duel, 

Campbell, J. A., as justice, 192. 

Campbell, L. D., and Kansas- 
Nebraska bill, 106. 

Canada reciprocity treaty, 80. 

Carey, H. C, as economist, 267. 

Cass, Lewis, and finality of 
compromise, 2 2 ; political 
character, 44; and tropical 
annexation, 254; treaty with 
Nicaragua, 256; and slave- 
trade, 260. 

Catron, John, as justice, 192; 
Dred Scott decision, 201. 

Central America, importance of 
isthmian transit, 81 ; British 
Mosquito protectorate, 88; 

treaties with Nicaragua, 88, 
256; Clay ton-Bulwer treaty, 
89; Greytown incident, 90- 
92; interpretation of treaty, 
90; question reopened, 91; 
in abeyance, 92, 93 ; Walker's 
filibustering, 251-253, 255; 
Dallas - Clarendon draught 
treaty, 253, 256; Buchanan's 
attitude, 253-255; British 
agreements, 257; bibliogra- 
phy, 316. 

Chase, S. P., joins Democrats, 
25; political character, 48; 
protest against Kansas-Ne- 
braska bill, 98 ; debate of bill, 
100; and Know-Nothingism, 
140; governor, 142; re-elec- 
tion, 209; on overtures to 
Douglas, 228; bibliography, 
310, 312. 

Chatfield, Frederick, and Mos- 
quito protectorate, 88. 

Chicago Tribune onDouglas, 228. 

China, commerical treaty (1858), 
260; bibliography of diplo- 
macy, 316. 

"Chivalry," use at south, 289. 

Choate, Rufus, political char- 
acter, 45; and Know-Noth- 
ingism, 139-. . 

Christiana fugitive affair, 24. 

Cities, growth (i85o-i86o),i88; 
rise of lake, 188; conditions, 
276; bibliography, 318. 

Civil service, rise of partisan- 
ship, 53; rotation in full 
development, 54. 

Clarendon, Lord, and Central 
America, 91, 92, 253. 

Clay, C. C, as debater, 52. 

Clay, Henry, and finality of 
compromise, 22; death, 41. 

Clayton, J. M., political charac- 
ter, 46; and Lopez's expedi- 
tion, 82, 83; Clayton-Bulwer 
treaty, 89 ; and Know-Noth- 
ingism, 139. 

Clayton-Bulwer treaty, 89; in- 

VOL. XVIII. — 2 2 

EX 327 

terpretation, 90; abrogation 
proposed, 257. 

Cobb, Howell, Unionist (1850), 
20, 21; elected governor, 26; 
as debater, 52; financial 
policy after panic, 182; and 
tariff, 184; and retrench- 
ment, 185; and Lecompton 
constitution, 218. 

Collamer, Jacob, elected sena- 
tor, 119; on Kansas, 151. 

Collins line of steamships, 69; 
abandoned, 187. 

Commerce, telegraph, 62; ef- 
fect of westward railroad ex- 
tension, 63; development of 
foreign grain, 66; cotton ex- 
port, 68; merchant marine, 
69, 186, 187; effect of Cali- 
fornia gold, 70; exports and 
imports, 71, 181; tariff act 
(1857), 73; Canadian reci- 
procity, 80; first cable, 186; 
federal control of navigable 
waters, 193; of interstate and 
foreign trade, 195; Southern 
Conventions, 294; Chinese 
treaty (1858), 260. See also 

Compromise of 1850, 8; finality 
in north, 10, 14-17, 24-26; 
in south, 18-22, 26, 27; in 
Congress, 22, 33. 

Congress, Thirty-first : compro- 
mise, 8; finality of compro- 
mise, 2 2 ; enforcement of 
fugitive-slave law, 23. 

Thirty - second : unimpor- 
tant, 32, 38; regulation of 
steamships, 66. 

Thirty - third : Kansas-Ne- 
braska bill, 94-107; spirit- 
ualism, 271; grant for care 
of insane, 272. 

Thirty - fourth : rivers and 
harbors, 65 ; tariff, 73 ; speak- 
ership contest, 145, 146; 
Kansas, 150-154, 166-169; 
assault on Sumner, 156-160. 


Thirty - fifth : Douglas- ad- 
ministration controversy, 
223, 224, 242-244; high feel- 
ing, 224; English compromise, 
225; Pacific railroad, 240; 
homestead bill and Cuba, 
241; protection of slavery, 

Constitution, federal, control of 
navigable waters, 193; viola- 
tion of contract, 194; inter- 
state commerce, 195. 

Constitutions, state, democratic 
tendencies, 263. 

Cooley vs. Port Wardens, 195. 

Corruption, rise of political, 55; 
federal cases, 56, 57; in New 
York City, 57. 

Corwin, Thomas, secretary of 
treasury, 13; Gardiner claim, 

Costa Rica, Nicaragua boun- 
dary, 89. See also Central 

Cotton, prosperity, 67; "king," 
68; unaffected by panic, 179- 
181; bibliography, 317. 

" Cotton Whigs " in retirement, 

2<5 5- 

Covode investigation, 56. 

Crampton, Sir J. F. T., recruit- 
ing controversy, 250; dis- 
missed, 250. 

Crawford, G. W., Galphin claim, 

Crimean War, recruiting in 
America, 250. 

Crittenden, J. J., attorney-gen- 
eral, 13; political character, 
46; and British interference 
in Cuba, 84 ; and Lecompton 
constitution, 225. 

Cuba, southern desire for, 12, 
80, 295; Polk's attempted 
purchase, 82 ; Lopez's expe- 
ditions, 82, 83; trade exac- 
tions, 84; British and French 
interference, 84; Marcy's at- 
titude, 85; Black Warrior 


affair, 86 ; Ostend manifesto, 
87; purchase debate (1858), 
241; cessation of agitation, 
258; bibliography, 316. 
Cumming, Alfred, Mormon war, 

Curtis, B. R., as justice, 192; 

dissent in Dred Scott case, 

Curtis, G. W., as writer, 266; 

as lecturer, 273. 

Dallas, G. M., Central Amer- 
ican diplomacy, 253. 

Dallas-Clarendon treaty, 253; 
fails, 256. 

Daniel, P. V., as justice, 192. 

Davis, Jefferson, state election, 
(1 851), 26; secretary of war, 
38; political character, 51; 
and Kansas - Nebraska bill, 
97, 105; and Lecompton con- 
stitution, 218; on Freeport 
doctrine, 244, 247; on aggres- 
sion of north, 300. 

Dayton, W* vice-presiden- 
tial nomination, 164. 

De Bow, J. D. B., on southern 
prosperity, 294; on north, 

De Bow's Review on southern 

wealth, 180. 
Debt, federal, reduction, 72; 

increase after panic, 183^ 
Declaration of Paris, American 

attitude, 251. 
Democracy, ascendency, 263- 


Democratic party, defeat 

(1854) , 117; 119; looks up 

(1855) , 142; split on Le- 
compton constitution , 220, 
222; Douglas and adminis- 
tration (1858), 223-227; ef- 
forts at reuniting, 237; pre- 
destined failure of efforts, 
244; See also Elections, Poli- 
tics, and leaders by name. 

Denmark, Sound dues, 251. 



Diplomatic uniform, Marcy's 
circular, 78. 

District of Columbia, slave- 
trade forbidden, 8. 

Dix, Dorothea, and insane, 272, 

Dixon, Archibald, and repeal of 
Missouri Compromise, 97. 

Dobbin, J. C, secretary of 
navy, 38. 

Donelson, A. J., vice-presiden- 
tial nomination, 147. 

"Doughfaces," reason for pla- 
cating south, 10, 51; honesty 
and patriotism, 46. 

Douglas, S. A., and fugitive- 
slave law, 17; candidacy 
(1852), 34; political charac- 
ter, 43, 50; early Nebraska 
bills, 95; introduces Kansas- 
Nebraska bill, 95; responsi- 
bility for it, 96 ; motive, 96 ; 
lack of foresight, 96 ; accepts 
repeal of Missouri Compro- 
mise, 97; debate of bill, 99- 
103; popular abuse, 1 1 7 ; on 
election of 1854, 119; up- 
holds pro-slavery in Kansas, 
1 51-153, 166; and assault on 
Sumner, 157; and Dred Scott 
decision, Freeport doctrine, 
206, 232, 243; opposes Le- 
compton constitution, 218- 
221; split with administra- 
tion, 219, 223-227; Republi- 
can overtures, 227 ; popular- 
ity in Illinois, 229; Lincoln 
debate, 230-233; as debater, 
230; indifference as to sla- 
very, 231 ; enhanced prestige, 
233; futile attempt at recon- 
ciliation, 238; attack by 
southern senators, 242-244, 
246 ; article in Harper's, 246 ; 
bibliography, 311, 312. 

Dred Scott decision, essence, 
190; facts of case, 197; point 
before supreme court, orig- 
inal decision, 198; injection 

of purpose to settle territorial 
slavery controversy, 198; di- 
verse opinions, Taney's, 199, 
200; concurring, 201; dis- 
senting, 202-204; reception 
in south, 204; in north, 204; 
Republicans on, 205; as a 
plot, 206 ; without effect on 
controversy, 208; and Free- 
port doctrine, 232; bibliog- 
raphy, 315. 
Duelling, southern code, 289. 

Economic conditions, prosperi- 
ty » 59> 74*» rise of business 
man, 273; of labor organiza- 
tion, 273; southern uneasi- 
ness, 294; bibliography, 317, 
319. See also Agriculture, 
Commerce, Finances, Manu- 
factures, Railroads, Tariff. 

Edmundson, H. A., and assault 
on Sumner, 157. 

Elections, (1848) slavery issue, 
7; (1850) results in north, 
17; in south, 19; (1851) re- 
sults, 25, 26; (1852) party 
situation, 32-34; nomina- 
tions, platforms, 34-36; cam- 
paign, 36; Free-Soilers, 36; 
vote, 37; (1854) Kansas- 
Nebraska act as issue, 109; 
impotence of Whigs, 109; 
development of anti-Nebras- 
ka party, 1 09-1 14; rise of 
Know-Nothingism, 1 1 4-1 1 7 ; 
attitude of Democrats, 117; 
results, 118, 119; surprise, 
120; (1855) results, 142; 
(1856) Know-Nothing dis- 
ruption, 146; its nominations, 
147; Democratic convention, 
161; anti - slavery Know- 
Nothing convention, 162, 
169; Republican nomina- 
tions and platform, 162-164; 
campaign, 169; secession 
threats, 170; their effect, 170; 
Buchanan's Kansas prom- 



ises, 171; vote, 172; (1857) 
Republican decline, 209; 
(1858) conditions, 228; Doug- 
las-Lincoln campaign, 229- 
233; administrative defeat, 
233-23.5; (1859) California 
campaign, 245. 

Elgin, Lord, Canadian reciproc- 
ity treaty, 80. 

Emerson, R. W., as writer, 266 ; 
as lecturer, 273. 

English compromise, 225, 226. 

Erie gauge war, 6 1 , 

Everett, Edward, political char- 
acter, 45 ; and Cuba, 84. 

Expenditures, federal, no re- 
trenchment after panic, 184. 

Fillmore, Millard, andfinality 
of compromise, 12, 22; cabi- 
net, 1 2 ; and Shadrach rescue, 
23; candidacy (1852), 35; po- 
litical character, 45 ; Know- 
Nothing nominee, 147; on 
Republican sectionalism,i7i ; 
bibliography of administra- 
tion, 305, 306. 

Finances, banking conditions, 
70, 71; government, 72, 181, 
183-185; bibliography, 307, 
318. See also Panic. 

Fish, Hamilton, as leader, 45. 

Fisheries, Canadian reciprocity 
treaty, 80. 

Floyd, J. B., defaulter, 57. 

Foote, H. S., Unionist (1850), 
20, 26. 

Foreign affairs, spirit of mani- 
fest destiny, 75, 76; Huelse- 
mann incident, 76 ; Kostza 
affair, 78; diplomatic dress, 
78; Japan, 79, 260; Declara- 
tion of Paris, 251; Sound 
dues, 251 ; Mexico, 258; Para- 
guay, 259; China, 260; search 
of slavers, 260; democratic 
attitude, 264; bibliography, 
307, 308, 315. See also Cen- 
tral America, Cuba, Territory. 

Forney, J. W., and Buchanan's 
campaign, 171; and election 
of 1858, 229. 

France and Cuba, 84. 

Free Love movement, 269. 

Free Soil party, campaign of 
1848, 8; and finality of com- 
promise, 14; decline, 17, 25; 
campaign of 1852, 36. 

Free thinkers, 270. 

Freeport doctrine, 232, 243. 

Fremont, J. C, nomination, 
163; vote, 172. 

Fugitive slaves, law of 1850, 8, 
12, 15; agitation against it, 
1 5 ; counter-movement, 1 6 ; 
law unpopular at north, ( 23; 
rescues, 23, 284; Christiana 
case, 24; law acquiesced in, 
24; supreme court cases, 196, 
207; northern attacks on law, 
283; Personal Liberty laws, 
284; bibliography, 323. 

Fuller, H. M., speakership con- 
test, 145. 

Gadsden purchase, 79. 

Galphin claim, 56. 

Gardiner claim, 56. 

Garrison, W. L., as general re- 
former, 270; as abolitionist, 
282, 283. 

Gavazzi, Alessandro, anti-Cath- 
olic agitator, 115. 

Geary, J. W., governor of Kan- 
sas, suppresses civil war, 166 ; 
resigns, 211. 

Genesee Chief case, 193. 

Georgia, convention and plat- 
form (1850), 21. 

Germans, immigration, 188; 
character of immigrants, 274. 

Geyer, H. S., elected senator, 

Giddings, J. R., as anti-slavery 

leader, 22, 48. 
Gold, effect on commerce of 

California output, 70 ; export, 

70, 7 2 - 



Gorsuch, Edward, killed, 24. 

Gough, J. B., as temperance 
agitator, 29. 

Great Britain, and Cuba, 81, 84; 
Crimean War recruiting, 250; 
slave-trade search, 261. See 
also Central America. 

Greeley, Horace, on Kansas 
election (1855), 127; and 
Know-Nothingism, 140; _ on 
hard times, 179; portection- 
ist, 183; and Douglas, 227; 
as journalist, 277, 278. 

Greytown, established as free 
city, 90; trouble with Tran- 
sit Company, 90-92; bom- 
barded, 92. 

Grier, R. C, as justice, 192. 

Grimes, J. W., candidacy for 
governor, 112. 

Guthrie, James, secretary of 
treasury, 38, 73. 

Gwin, W. M., and Broderick, 

Hale, J. P., candidacy (1852), 

36 ; as anti-slavery leader, 48. 
Hammond, J. H., on cotton and 

panic of 1857, 180. 
Hanway, Castner, trial for 

treason, 24. 
Harris, Townsend, Japanese 

treaties, 260. 
Hawaii, attempted annexation, 


Hawthorne, Nathaniel, as novel-. 

ist, 266. 
Helper, H. R., Impending Crisis 

ineffectual, 288. 
Hildreth, Richard, as historian, 


Hise, Elijah, draught treaty, 88. 

History writers, 267. 

Hollins, G. N., bombards Grey- 
town, 92. 

Holmes, O. W., as writer, 266; 
as lecturer, 273. 

Homestead law debate (1858), 

Honduras. See Central Amer- 

Houston, Samuel, political char- 
acter, 46. 

Howard, W. A., Kansas com- 
mittee, 154; report, 168. 

Huelsemann incident, 76. 

Hughes, John, and public 
schools, 115. 

Illinois, Republican party 
movement, 112; Lincoln- 
Douglas campaign, 228-233. 

Immigration, amount and char- 
acter, 188; social influence, 
273; avoids south, 287. 

Indiana, Republican party 
movement, 111. 

Ingram, D. N., Koszta affair, 

Insane, amelioration move- 
ment, 272. 

Intellectual life. See Litera- 

Internal improvements, Pierce's 
veto, 65. 

Iowa, Republican party move- 
ment, 112. 

Irish immigration. 188; char- 
acter of immigrants, 274. 

Iron, property of industry, 68; 
effect of panic, 178; bibliog- 
raphy, 317. 

Irving, Washington, as histo- 
rian, 267. 

Isthmian transit, importance, 
81 ; Clayton - Bulwer treaty, 
89; Democrats on (1856), 
253; Nicaragua treaty, 256. 
See also Central America. 

Iverson, Alfred, as debater^; 
on Pacific railroad and seces- 
sion, 240. 

Japan, Perry's expedition, 79; 
American treaties (1858, 
1859), 260; bibliography, 

Jerry rescue, 24. 



Jones, S. J., " Wakarusa War," 
133; shot, 155; and sack of 
Lawrence, 156. 

Jones vs. Van Zandt, 196. 

Kansas, designed for slavery, 
121; pro-slavery settlers, 
121; New England Aid So- 
ciety, 122; northern settlers, 
122; Lawrence founded, 123; 
southern resentment of north- 
ern immigration, 124; Reeder 
governor, 125; first election 
(1854), Missourian invasion, 
125; pro-slavery appeals, 126, 
143; second election and in- 
vasion (1855), 126, 127; pro- 
slavery legislation, 127; pop- 
ular opinion of election, 127; 
Pierce and Reeder, 128; legis- 
lature and Reeder, 129; slave 
code, 129; public interest, 
130, 143; Free State To- 
peka constitution, 131; Shan- 
non governor, 132; "Wak- 
arusa War," 133 ; Free State 
organization, political result, 
134; "Beecher's Bibles," 143; 
Buford's expedition, 144; at- 
titude of Republican party, 
148; Pierce upholds pro-sla- 
very party, 149; his message, 
150; his proclamation, 150; 
Douglas upholds pro-slavery, 
151; enabling act introduced, 
152; Free State memorial, 
1 £3; Wilson on, 153 ; House 
visitation committee, 154; 
process against Free State 
government, 155; arrest of 
its leaders, 155; sack of 
Lawrence, 156; Sumner's 
speech, 156; assault on Sum- 
ner, 157-160; excitement as 
Republican asset, 161, 168; 
platforms on (1856), 162, 
164; civil war, 164-166; Free 
State legislature dispersed, 
1 6s; Geary governor, 166; 

strife suppressed, 166, 173; 
Toombs's enabling act, 166- 
168; report of House com- 
mittee, 168; House free-state 
bill, 169; Buchanan's prom- 
ises, 171, 211; Buchanan's 
opportunity, 210; Walker 
governor, popular vote on 
constitution promised, 211; 
pro-slavery convention, 212; 
Free State men abandon sepa- 
rate government, 213 ; south 
denounces Walker, 213; Free 
State men carry territorial 
election, 214; Lecompton 
constitution, provision for 
limited vote, 215, 216; north- 
ern indignation at this, 216; 
Walker denounces it, 216; 
Buchanan endorses it, 217, 
219, 221, 240; Douglas at- 
tacks it, 218-221; votes on 
it, 221; Buchanan advises 
pro-slavery admission, 221; 
English compromise, 225; 
constitution rejected, 226; 
bibliography, 321. 

Kansas-Nebraska bill, prede- 
cessors, 95; introduced, with 
popular sovereignty clause, 
95, 103; Douglas's responsi- 
bility and motive, 96; ex- 
pressed repeal of Missouri 
Compromise, 97; adminis- 
trative support, 97, 98; pro- 
vision for two territories, 98; 
public interest aroused, 98; 
protest of Independent Dem- 
ocrats, 98; Senate debate, 
99-103; passes Senate, 103; 
in House, 103, 105-107; pop- 
ular protest, 104; southern 
attitude, 105, 121; enacted, 
107; fatefulness, 107; result 
on parties, 109, 116; popular 
disapproval at polls, 119; 
when popular sovereignty 
became operative, 123. 

Keitt, L. M., and assault on 



Sumner, 157; resigns, re- 
elected, 158. 

Kelly, Abby, as agitator, 269. 

Kentucky vs. Dennison, 207. 

King, William, candidacy 
(1852), 35. 

Know-Nothing party, rise as 
secret society, 114; agitation 
against Catholicism, 115,274; 
profits by anti - Nebraska 
movement, 116, 117; organi- 
zation, 116; political success, 
(1854), 118, 120; as succes- 
sor of Whigs, 136, 141; na- 
tional organization, Union 
oath, 137; success (1855), 
138, 142; and slavery, 138; 
leaderless, 139-141; concil- 
iates south, 141; loses secret 
character, 141 ; and speaker- 
ship contest, 145, 146; dis- 
ruption on slavery question, 
146 ; presidential nomina- 
tions, 147; anti-slavery fac- 
tion nominations, 162, 169; 
vote (1856), 172; moribund, 
234; at south (1859), 246; 
bibliography, 314. 

Kossuth, Louis, visit, 30; and 
government, 32. 

Kostza affair, 78. 

Labor, demonstrations after 
panic, 178; rise of organiza- 
tion, 273. 

Lane, James, in Kansas, To- 
peka convention, 131; and 
Free State memorial, 153. 

Lawrence, Amos, and settle- 
ment of Kansas, 122. 

Lawrence, Kansas, founded, 
123; " Wakarusa War," 133; 
sacked, 156. 

Lecompte, S. D., charge against 
Free State government, 155. 

Lecompton constitution, 215; 
provision for popular vote, 
215; Walker denounces, 216; 
Buchanan endorses, 217, 219, 

22 t, 240; Douglas attacks, 
218-221; votes on, 221; in 
Congress, 225; English com- 
promise, 225; Kansas re- 
jects, 226. 

Lincoln, Abraham, vice-presi- 
dential candidacy (1856), 
164; on Dred Scott decision 
as a plot, 206 ; nominated 
for senator, 228; Douglas 
debate, 230-233; as debater, 
230; house - divided - against- 
itself speech, 231; anti-sla- 
very views, 232; bibliog- 
raphy, 312. 

Lind, Jenny, in America, 278. 

Literature of period, in north, 
265-267; lyceum system, 
272; southern inactivity, 

Longfellow, H. W., as poet, 

Lopez, Narcisso, filibustering 

expeditions, 82-84. 
Lowell, J. R., as writer, 266; 

as lecturer, 273. 
Lyceum system, 272. 

McClellan, Robert, and Kan- 
sas-Nebraska bill, 105. 

Mace, Daniel, and Kansas-Ne- 
braska bill, 106. 

McLean, John, as justice, 192; 
Dred Scott decision, 202. 

Maine, prohibition, 30; Re- 
publican party movement, 

Malmesbury, Earl of, and search 
of slavers, 261. 

Manifest destiny, spirit, 75; 
and slavery, 76. 

Mann, D. A., and Hungary, 76. 

Manufactures, stimulation, 59; 
prosperity, 68; effect of 
panic, 176 ; rise of protection, 
183,229,234; southern lack, 
286; bibliography, 317. 

Marcy, W. L., secretary of 
state, 38; political character. 



44 ; and civil service, 55 ; and 
manifest destiny and slavery, 
76; Kostza affair, 78; and 
diplomatic dress, 78; and 
Hawaii, 79; and Cuban an- 
nexation, 85; and Ostend 
manifesto, 87; and Central 
America, 9 1 ; and Kansas- 
Nebraska bill, 105; and 
Crimean War recruiting, 250; 
and neutral trade, 250; and 
Declaration of Paris, 251; 
and Sound dues, 251. 

Mason, 5 J. M., threatens seces- 
sion, 170. 

Mason, J. Y., diplomatic dress, 
78; Ostend manifesto, 87. 

Massachusetts, election of 1850, 
18; Know-Nothing success, 

Means, J. H., secessionist (1850), 

Medill, Joseph, as journalist, 

Mexico, Buchanan's attempted 
intervention, 258. 

Michigan, Republican party 
movement, 111. 

Millerism, 271. 

Minnesota admitted, 237. 

Missouri Compromise, question 
of extending to Pacific, 4, 5; 
repealed, 97; declared un- 
constitutional, 200-203. 

Money, gold standard, 72. 

Mormons, control in Utah, 238; 
war, 239. 

Mosquito protectorate negotia- 
tions, 88-92, 253, 257. 

Motley, J. L., as historian, 267. 

Napier, Lord, Central Ameri- 
can diplomacy, 257. 

Nashville convention (1850), 9, 

Nationalism, character of south- 
ern, 21; of leaders before 
1852, 40-43; of their surviv- 
ors, 43 - 47 ; of anti - slavery 

leaders, 47. See also Seces- 

Nativism. See Know-Nothing 

Nebraska. See Kansas-Nebras- 
ka bill. 

Nelson, Samuel, as justice, 192; 
Dred Scott decision, 201. 

Neutrality, Marcy's efforts, 2 50; 
Declaration of Paris, 251. 

New England Emigrant Aid 
Society, 122; misunderstood 
by southerners, 124; Pierce 
condemns, 150; Douglas at- 
tacks, 151, 152; Wilson de- 
fends, 153. 

New Mexico, slavery question, 
3, 236; territory organized, 

New Orleans, anti-Spanish riot, 

New York, Whigs and Repub- 
lican movement (1854), 113. 

New York City, corruption, 57. 

New York Herald, influence, 

New York Tribune, influence, 

Newport as resort, 276. 

Newspapers, conditions, 276- 
278; bibliography, 308. 

Nicaragua, draught treaties 
with, 89; Costa Rica boun- 
dary, 89; Walker in, 251-253, 
256; Marcy's treaty, 256. See 
also Central America. 

North, and fugitive-slave law, 
15, 23, 283; and Kansas- 
Nebraska bill, 104; perma- 
nent preponderance, 237; so- 
cial currents, 263; rule of 
democracy, 263-265; litera- 
ture, 265-267; radical agita- 
tion, 268-272; philanthropy, 
272; lyceums, 272; social 
effect of new industrialism, 
273-275; of immigration, 
273; amusements of society, 
275; condition of cities, 276; 



newspapers, 276-278; ex- 
citability, 278; change in 
feeling towards south, 279- 
285; southern opinion on, 
291, 293, 300-303. 

Oberlin - Wellington rescue, 

Ohio, Republican party move- 
ment, in. 

Oliver, Mordecai, Kansas com- 
mittee, 154; report, 168. 

Olmsted, F. L., slavery investi- 
gations, 299. 

Oregon admitted, 237. 

Orr, J. L., on southern lack of 
manufactures, 286. 

Ouseley, Sir William, Central 
American diplomacy, 257. 

Pacific railroad, scheme and 
rivalry, 65, 240. 

Palfrey, J. G., as historian, 267. 

Panic of 1857, causes, 174, 175; 
decline in railroad snares, 
175; crash, 175; suspension, 
175, 176; industrial decline, 
176; effect on agriculture, 
177; resumption, 177; hard 
times, 178, 179; demonstra- 
tions of unemployed, 178; 
south not affected, 179-181; 
effect on foreign trade, 181; 
public deficit, 181, 184; gov- 
ernment measures of relief, 
182; treasury notes, 183; 
increase in federal debt, 183; 
government solvency not af- 
fected, 183, no retrenchment, 
185; recovery, 185; bibliog- 
raphy, 318. 

Paper money, treasury notes of 
1857, 183. 

Paraguay, expedition against, 
2 59- 

Parker, Theodore, as religious 

radical, 270. 
Parkman, Francis, as historian, 


Passenger cases, 195. 

Paulding, Hiram, Walker epi- 
sode, 255. 

Pennsylvania, election of 1856, 
172 ; of 1858, 229, 234. 

Periodicals of period 1850- 
1860, 308. 

Perry, M. C, Japan expedition, 

Personal Liberty laws, 284. 

Pierce, Franklin, and placation 
of south, 11 ; nomination, 34; 
campaign, 36; election, 37; 
cabinet, 38; and office-seek- 
ers, 54; internal improve- 
ments vetoes, 65; promises 
calm on slavery question, 94; 
and Kansas-Nebraska bill, 
97, 98; political character, 
97, 107; and Reeder, 128, 
130; upholds Kansas pro- 
slavery, 149; Kansas mes- 
sage, 150; proclamation, 150; 
and Dred Scott decision, 206 ; 
and Crampton, 250; aid-for- 
insane veto, 272; bibliog- 
raphy of administration, 305, 

Pike, J. S., as journalist, 277. 

Political economy, writers, 267. 

Politics, party regularity and 
sectionalism, 5 ; principles, 6 ; 
parties and slavery, 7 ; prob- 
lem (1850-1860), 10; placat- 
ing south, 10-12, 50; danger 
from Cuban question, 1 2 ; 
lack of national issue (185 1), 
29; change in leaders, 40; 
nationalism of old leaders, 
40; their retirement, 41-43; 
surviving Unionists, 43-46 ; 
their honesty and patriotism, 
46; anti-slavery leaders as 
Unionists, 47 ; anti-slavery 
leaders, 48-50; southern- 
rights leaders, 50-53; and 
civil service, 53-55; corrup- 
tion, 55-57; become a busi- 
ness, 57; results of Kansas- 


Nebraska bill, 109; no leader 
for the opportunity, no; 
rule of democracy, 263-265; 
character of southern, 288; 
bibliography, 307, 314; of 
southern, 319. See also Elec- 
tions, and parties and leaders 
by name. 

Polk, J. K., and Cuba, 82. 

Pollard, E. A., on reopening 
slave-trade, 296. 

Poor whites, submission to 
slave-holders, 288. 

Popular sovereignty, in com- 
promise of 1850, 8; in Kan- 
sas-Nebraska bill, 95; when 
to operate, 123; Douglas's 
views, 218, 224, 232. 

Population, amount and distri- 
bution (i860), 187; growth 
of urban, 188; foreign, 188. 

Post-office, reduction in post- 
age, 63. 

Prescott, W. H., as historian, 

Prices, and California gold, 70; 
effect of panic, 178; slaves 
(1857), 180. 

Prigg vs. Pennsylvania, 196. 

Privateering, question of aboli- 
tion, 251. 

Public lands, railroad grants, 
64; homestead bill (1858), 

Pugh, G. E., and administra- 
tion, 223. 

Quitman, J. A., secessionist 
(1850), 19, 26, 52 ; on annexa- 
tion of Cuba, 295. 

Radicalism. See Social condi- 

Railroads, extension over Ap- 
palachians, 59-61; develop- 
ment by sections, 6, 185; 
condition, 61; popular and 
government interest, 61; ri- 
valry, "Erie War," 61 ; effect 

on west, 62; effect on eco- 
nomic balance, 63, 66; federal 
land grants, 64; state aid, 64; 
scheme for Pacific, 65, 240; 
accidents, 65; and grain ex- 
port, 66 ; and cotton produc- 
tion, 67; over-construction, 
174; decline of stock, 175; 
bankruptcy, 175; recovery, 
185; strikes, 273; beginning 
of street, 276; bibliography, 

Raymond, H. J., as journalist, 

Reed.W. B., Chinese treaty, 260. 

Reeder, A. H., governor of 
Kansas, unfitness, 125; and 
Missouri invasion, 125; and 
second election, 127; be- 
comes obnoxious to pro-sla- 
very, 128; and Pierce, 128; 
and legislature, 129 ; removed, 
130; FreeState delegate, 132, 
154; flees, 155. 

Referendum in state constitu- 
tions, 264. 

Religion, radicalism, 269; free 
thinkers, 270; spiritualism, 
271; last great revival, 278. 

Republican party, movement 
in northwest (1854), no; 
platform there, in; failure 
in east, 112; loses ground 
(1855), 136, 142 ; first nation- 
al convention, 147; Kansas 
question as asset (1856), 148, 
161, 168; nominees and plat- 
form, 162-164; vote, 172 ; and 
Dred Scott decision, 205; re- 
action against (1857), >g\ 
and Douglas, 227; su^ess 
(1858), 234; issue determined, 
247; Seward as leader, 247; 
bibliography, 315. See also 
Elections, Politics. 

Revenue, surplus, 72; deficit 
after panic, 181, 184. 

Rhett, Barnwell, secessionist, 



Richardson, W. A., and Kansas- 
Nebraska bill, 103, 105; 
speakership contest, 145. 

Richmond Enquirer on northern 
ferment, 291. 

Rivas, Patricio, and Walker, 

Robinson, Charles, in Kansas, 
Topeka constitution, 131; ar- 
rested, 155; bibliography, 

Roman Catholic church, move- 
ment against, 115. 

San Juan Island controversy, 

Saratoga as resort, 276. 

Saunders, R. M., and bid for 
Cuba, 82. 

Scott, Winfield, nomination 
(1852), 35; campaign, 36, 37; 
defeat, 37. 

Search, right of, and slave- 
trade, 261. 

Secession, threats and territo- 
rial slavery, 5, 9; southern 
campaigns (1850), 19-22; 
(1851), 26; threats (1856), 
170; as southern remedy, 

Sectionalism, influence of party 
regularity, 5. See also Na- 
tionalism, Secession. 

Seward, W. H., political char- 
acter, 49; and Republican 
party movement (1854), 113; 
and Know-No thingism, 140; 
and Kansas enabling act, 
167; on Dred Scott decision, 
205; "irrepressible conflict," 
234; as Republican leader, 
247; bibliography, 310, 312. 

Shadrach rescue, 23. 

•■Shannon, Wilson, governor of 
Kansas, 132 ; and " Wakarusa 
War," 133; and civil war, 
165; replaced, 166. 

Sharon Springs as resort, 276. 

Sharps rifles in Kansas, 133, 143. 

Sherman, John, Kansas com- 
mittee, 154; report, 168. 

Shields, James, and spiritual- 
ism, 271. 

Shipping, maximum, 69; de- 
cline, 186; bibliography, 318. 

Simms, W. G., as writer, 292. 

Simonton, J. W., as journalist, 

. 2 77- . . 

Sims, fugitive case, 25. 

Slavery, controversy over Cali- 
fornia, 3-5 ; attitude of politi- 
cal parties, 7 ; compromise 
of 1850, 8; territorial regula- 
tion completed, 9 ; finality of 
compromise, 10, 14-27; sup- 
pression of issue, 10-12, 14, 
28; possible sources of fric- 
tion, 12; instability of calm, 
39, 94; northern antagonism 
to increased territory, 76, 
249; 280; and Know-Noth- 
ingism, 138, 146; prices of 
slaves (1857), 180; Douglas's 
indifference, 231; Lincoln's 
attitude (1858), 231, 232; 
Seward's attitude, 234; act- 
ual territorial status (1858), 
236 ; demand for federal pro- 
tection, 243-245; popular 
attitude at north, 279-281; 
influence of Uncle Tom's 
Cabin, 281; of abolitionists, 
282; as positive good, 297- 
299 ; condition of slaves, 
299; bibliography of condi- 
tions, 319; of northern atti- 
tude, 323. See also Dred 
Scott, Fugitive slaves, Kan- 
sas, Kansas-Nebraska, Re- 
publican, Slave-trade. 

Slave-trade, domestic, forbid- 
den in District of Columbia, 
8; foreign, smuggling, 261, 
297; British search contro- 
versy, 261; agitation for re- 
opening, 295-297; bibliog- 
raphy, 320. 
Social conditions, political cor- 


ruption, 55-57 ; northern cur- 
rents, 263 ; northern intellect- 
ual life, 265-267; radicalism, 
268; women's rights, 268; 
religious radicalism, 269; so- 
cial conventions, 270; union 
of radicals, 270; spiritualism, 
271; care of insane, 272 ; in- 
fluence of new industrialism, 
273—275 ; of immigration, 
273; rise of idle rich, 275; 
lack of rational amusements, 
275; life at resorts, 275; 
condition of cities, 276; news- 
papers, 276-2 7 8 ; excitability, 
278; economic basis of south- 
ern, 286 ; southern scale, 287 ; 
leadership there, 288; south- 
ern gentleman, 289; his code 
of honor, 289; his home life, 
290; south unaffected by 
northern ferment, 290 ; south- 
ern intellectual life, 292; bib- 
liography, 319, 320, 322-324. 
See also Slavery. 
Socialism in period 1850-1860, 

Soule", Pierre, minister to Spain, 
instructions, 85 ; Black War- 
rior affair, 86 ; Ostend mani- 
festo, 87; resigns, 88. 

Sound dues, Denmark aban- 
dons, 251. 

Sources on period 1 850-1 860, 
collections, 307; public doc- 
uments, 307; periodicals, 
308; newspapers, 309; writ- 
ings, 309; autobiographies 
and reminiscences, 310; on 
slavery, 319; on southern 
society, 320; on Kansas, 321 ; 
travels, 322. 

South, political placation, 10- 
12, 50; and finality of com- 
promise, 18-22; Union vic- 
tories (1850, 1851), 20-22, 
26; railroads, 60, 185; pros- 
perity, 67; and Kansas-Ne- 
braska bill, 105; and Kan- 

sas, 124, 126, 143; northern 

preponderance over, 237; 
changed attitude of north 
towards, 279-285; economic 
basis of society, 286; lack of 
manufactures, 286; social 
scale, 287; control by upper 
class, 288 ; ideals of gentle- 
men, 289, 290; unaffected by 
northern ferment, 290; liter- 
ary inactivity, 292 ; national 
consciousness, 293; sectional 
patriotism, 293; economic 
uneasiness, 294; commercial 
conventions, 294; and trop- 
ical expansion, 295; and re- 
opening of slave-trade, 295- 
297; feeling towards north, 
300-303; bibliography, 319. 
See also Secession, Slavery. 

Southern Commercial Conven- 
tions, 294; attempt to give 
them political power, 295; 
and slave-trade, 297. 

Southern Literary Messenger^ 
292, 308. 

Southern Rights associations 
(1850), 19 

Spam. See Cuba. 

Speaker of House of Represent- 
atives, election contest (1855), 
145, 146. 

Spiritualism, rise, 271; asks 
federal aid, 271. 

Squier, E. G., draught treaty, 

Stanton, F. P., and Lecompton 
constitution, 212, 221; re- 
moved, 221. 

State rights, prestige, 264. 

States, constitutional tenden- 
cies, 263; bibliography, 320. 

Steamships, and railroad com- 
petition, 63; accidents, 65; 
regulation, 66; ocean liners, 
69, 187. 

Stephens, A. H., Unionist 
(1850), 20, 21; bolts (1852), 
36; as debater, 52; and 



Kansas- Nebraska bill, 105- 
107; and Know-Nothingism, 

Stone, Lucy, as agitator, 269. 
Stowe, Harriet B., as writer, 

266; Uncle Tom's Cabin, 281. 
Stringfellow, B. F., and Kansas, 


Stuart, C. E., and administra- 
tion, 223. 

Suffrage, woman, 268. 

Sumner, Charles, elected sena- 
tor, 18; political character, 
49 ; on Kansas-Nebraska bill, 
101; and Know-Nothingism, 
140; Kansas philippic, 156; 
Brooks's assault, 157-160; 
accused of malingering, 158. 

Sumner, E. V., and Kansas civil 
war, 165. 

Supreme court, policy under 
Democratic control, 191; 
character of cases, 191; in- 
consistent constitutional con- 
struction, state-rights ten- 
dency, 192 - 195 ; Genesee 
Chief and Wheeling Bridge 
cases, control of navigable 
waters, 193; violation of con- 
tract cases, 194; Passenger 
cases and Cooley vs. Port 
Wardens, control of com- 
merce, 195; public esteem, 
195; Prigg vs. Pennsylvania, 
Jones vs. Van Zandt, fugitive 
slaves, 196; Ableman vs. 
Booth, fugitive-slave law, 
207 ; Kentucky vs. Dennison, 
extradition for aiding fugi- 
tives, 207; bibliography, 315. 
See also Dred Scott. 

Syracuse, Jerry rescue, 24. 

Taney, R. B., constitutional 
attitude, 192 ; Dred Scott de- 
cision, 199, 200, 206; fugitive- 
slave decisions, 207. 

Tariff, act of 1857, 73; revival 
of protection agitation, 183, 

229, 234; Morrill tariff, 184; 
bibliography, 318. 

Taylor, Bayard, as writer, 266. 

Telegraph, development, 62; 
first cable, 186. 

Temperance question, 29 ; Maine 
law, 30; bibliography, 323. 

Territories, slavery regulation 
completed, 9; actual slavery 
status (1858), 236; demand 
for protection of slavery in, 
243-245. See also Dred Scott, 
Kansas, Kansas-Nebraska. 

Territory, northern antagonism 
to more slavery, 76, 249, 280; 
attempted annexation of Ha- 
waii, 79; Gadsden purchase, 
79; Democrats and tropical 
(1856), 253; Buchanan's at- 
titude, 254; southern desire 
for tropical, 295. See also 
Central America, Cuba. 

Terry, D. S., Broderick duel. 

Texas, boundary agreement, 8, 

Thayer, Eli, and settlement of 
Kansas, 122. 

Thompson, Jacob, and Lecomp- 
ton constitution, 217, 218. 

Thoreau, H. D., as writer, 266. 

Tigre Island incident, 88. 

Toombs, Robert, Unionist 
(1850), 20, 21; bolts (1852), 
36; political character, 51; 
and Know-Nothingism, 139; 
and assault on Sumner, 157; 
Kansas enabling act, 166; on 
homestead bill and Cuba, 
241; Bunker Hill boast, 280. 

Topeka constitution, 131. 

Toucey, Isaac, and search of 
slavers, 261. 

Travel, bibliography, 322. 

Treaties, Canadian reciprocity 
(1854), 80; Clayton-Bulwer 
(1850), 89; Dallas-Clarendon 
draught (1856), 253, 256 ; Nic- 
aragua (1856), 256; Chinese 



and Japanese (1858, 1859), 

Trumbull, Lyman, as anti-sla- 
very leader, 50 ; elected sena- 
tor, 119. 

Uncle Tom's Cabin, influence, 

Underground Railroad activi- 
ty, 284. _ 

Utah, territorial organization, 
8; Mormon war, 238. 

Vanderbilt, Cornelius, and 
Walker, 252. 

Vetoes, Pierce's internal im- 
provement, 65; Pierce's aid 
for insane, 272. 

Wade, B. F., elected senator, 
18; political character, 49; 
on Kansas-Nebraska bill.ioi ; 
on homestead bill and Cuba, 

"Wakarusa War," 133. 

Walker, R. J., governor of 
Kansas, promises < popular 
vote on constitution, 211; 
and Free State men, 213, 214; 
hopes for Democratic state, 
213; southerners denounce, 
213; denounces Lecompton 
constitution, 216; resigns, 

Walker, William, in Nicaragua, 
251-253; second expedition, 
and Paulding, 255; third ex- 
pedition, killed, 256; bibliog- 
raphy, 316. 

Washburne, E. B., and Kansas- 
Nebraska bill, 106. 

Wayland, Francis, as writer, 
267, 292. 

Wayne, J. M., as justice,^ 192 ; 
and Dred Scott decision, 

Webster, Daniel, and placa- 
tion of south, 11; secretary 

of state, 13; and finality of 
compromise, 17, 24; and Kos- 
suth, 32; candidacy (1852), 
35,41; death, 42 ; Huelsemann 
letter, 7 7 ; and Lopez's expe- 
ditions, 82-84; and Central 
America, 89. 
Weed, Thurlow, and Republi- 
can party movement (1854), 

West, railroad connection with 
east, 59-61; effect on trade 
current, 66; grain exports, 
66; after panic, 179. 

Wheeling Bridge case, 193. 

Whig party, loses southern sup- 
port, 36; effect on, of elec- 
tion (1852), 37 ; loses leaders, 
45;; and Kansas-Nebraska 
bill, 109; and Republican 
movement, 113; Know-Noth- 
ingism as successor, 136-139, 
246; collapse of conserva- 
tism^ 265. See also Elections, 

Whitfield, J. W., Kansas terri- 
torial delegate, 125, 154. 

Whitman, Walt, and democ- 
racy, 266. 

Whittier, J. G„ as poet, 266. 

Wilmot Proviso, 5. 

Wilson, Henry, as anti-slavery 
leader, 50; as Know-Nothing 
leader, 140; on Kansas, 153; 
and Douglas, 227. 

Winthrop, R. C, and Know- 
Nothingism, 139; political 
attitude, 265. 

Wisconsin, Republican party 
movement, 1 1 1 ; and fugitive 
slaves, 207. 

Wise, H. A., canvass (1855), 
138; on assault on Sumner, 
158 ; threatens secession 
(1856), 170. 

Wise, Jennings, as duellist, 

Women's rights movement, 2 68 ; 
bibliography, 323. 

INDEX 341 

Wood, Fernando, corrupt boss, Yancey, W. L., as secessionist, 

57. 19, 26, 52. 

Wool, tariff of 1857, 73. Young, Brigham, governor of 

Woolsey, T. D., as water, 267. Utah, 239.